Unity creates strength. Is that really the case? Often individual personalities are not that obvious when they are part of a group. But just being in together is not enough – the group has to become a team.
Edoardo Verzotti (left) and Livio La Padula
In a nutshell, this is the most critical thing that rowing teaches. And rowing is perhaps the only true team sport left. Not because each individual’s identity disappears just like that, but more because when you are in the same boat (quite literally) they have less importance.
Strength in unity
This philosophy has been moulded over many years of rowing at a high level and has been the foundations of RowInTeam – the brainchild of Edoardo Verzotti and Livio La Padula. This is a project focussed on team building, the discipline that has seen them develop into world champions. Regardless of the situation, group dynamics remain the same, whether in sport or in everyday life.
In truth, you may be the strongest rower in the world, but without your crewmates you will never cross the finish line first. Working as part of a team doesn’t mean giving up your individual values, it means learning to make your skills available to others. That is how you can then go beyond your own limits and learn to express your own ideas, for the benefit of the team and each individual. It works in your sporting life, career and at home.
“Rowing has given me so much,” Edoardo tells me. “And I’m only just realising that now. When I was an athlete, I almost hated it for all the things it had taken away from me. If you’ve seen me at races organised by my friends, all they need to do is make a gesture and I’m there lending a hand – even if I’ve not seen them for a long time. For it’s like paying something back, trying to get more people involved so they can be inspired by this “cursed” sport.
I took a friend along to the first of the Beat It events, where they faced up to their own limits. Along with Stefano Basalini, I got a crew of former students from the Cardano di Pavia College, which is where we studied at university. The idea with RowInTeam is not to develop a set of crews for racing, but just to follow a path of making the sport more popular. A while ago, Livio and I presented to an audience of 100 youngsters. Seeing their eyes light up was truly exciting, that is what we’re after.”