Maxime Mbandà, from the Zebras to an ambulance. A story of courage.

There are certain values that you learn as a child and that grow inside you day after day, when you are moving up and down the pitch, one meter at a time, and it does not matter whether it is hot or cold, raining or how tired you are. That is how you become a rugby player: in the mud, all sweaty, bruised. That is how the values of sport seep into you and never leave you; courage, compassion, self-sacrifice, spirit of sacrifice, and perseverance become cells of your body and grow together with your muscles, expanding like your breath.

Then one day it happens that the world that usually cheers you suddenly vanishes into silence because something comes along that no one can see and that is much more threatening than an opponent running towards you to tackle you. You can try to dodge your opponent, much less a virus. But you are someone who runs and dodges threats and it is not your habit to simply be a bystander because your team is counting on you. So, you end up taking off your Zebras’ shirt and putting on a plastic suit. You climb into an ambulance because you feel that is your place in the grand scheme of things. You are no longer carrying an oval ball up and down the field: now you are carrying people, people who cheered you on and even those who may have booed you, because when you are running to save lives. It does not matter who you are saving, because it is someone like you and you are doing everything you can to save him.

That is what sport is. That is what life is. And this is the story of Maxime Mbandà, third row of the Parma Zebras who during the whole lockdown period moved to the front row on an ambulance as Yellow Cross volunteer, transporting Covid19 patients. Maxime worked as a volunteer for 70 days, transported more than a hundred people and helped a thousand times more because he was a model for many, for all of us. The President of the Italian Republic has appointed him Knight of Merit of the Italian Republic for this choice.

We would like to thank Maxime Mbandà for reminding us of the meaning of the choice to stand by the Zebras Rugby team of Parma as a Partner: it is the choice to believe in people, courage, sacrifice and team spirit. These are the values that IBSA believes in and shares,” Luca Crippa, CEO & Managing Director of IBSA Farmaceutici.

Here you can find this story, one of the many other stories of the #storiecontagiose collection, told in his words.