FOR THE LOVE OF THE GAME: Rogersville foreign exchange student travels 5,000 miles from Italy to play American football

Published: Oct. 30, 2020 at 10:14 PM CDT
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ROGERSVILLE, Mo. (KY3) - To achieve a dream, takes sacrifices. For one high school football player in Rogersville, his dream took him 5,000 miles away from his home.

His name is Francesco Pellecchi, and he is from Italy. One of the main reasons he decided to become a foreign exchange student in America was to play football.

“I have some Americans friends in Italy and they started introducing me to football, watching some NFL games.” said Pellecchi. He  immediately fell in love with the game and knew he had to play it."

The main sport in Italy is soccer. Everyone plays soccer,” Pellecchi added.

“There is like one football team per city, or some not. We try to play with what we have.”

He was able to play one year of football in Italy, but due to lack of interest and players, the games are seven-on-seven. But Francesco wanted to play the real American football.

“Everyone said come on, we are in Italy, it is impossible.” Pellecchi remembered.

He wanted to become a foreign exchange student and ended up pairing with a family in Rogersville.

“When he first walked in the door the first day you could tell he was extremely nervous,” said Rogersville football coach Mark Talbert. “He stepped in and started to learn the game and you could see every week he got more and more confident and he started to have more success.”

Francesco found a role on the defense and special teams. He says his teammates took him in like an old friend.

“I consider them my second family,” Francesco said. “Everytime I fail or do something wrong, they don’t scream at me, they talk to me and tell me how to do it better.”

“You want to see a practice go crazy, when Francesco comes up with a big play on scout team, our kids go nuts for him,” Talbert explained. “I know a few of our kids have made a lifelong friend in him.”

“Everybody says he did it, he is there, he is playing, he went for his dream and he does it,” said Francesco with a smile. “I came here to play football and everybody is hyped for me because they see me happy.”

Francesco is hoping to come back to America to attend college.

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