The Army Sport Centre was founded on 1st January 1960 and it joined the National Sport Federations aiming to promote and develop the amateur, juvenile and excellence sport. In particular, the Centre aims to: promote the development of the sport activity among military personnel; to strengthen the agonistic spirit among the athletes and promote the merger between the Army and the Country through the participation in federal races and national or international promotional races; to maintain the relation between Armed Forces, Army Corps and sport civil organizations; to constitute juvenile and amateur Sections directing young people to the sport.
Before that date the military sport had taken the first steps in Turin in the mid-nineteenth century with the foundation of the Military Gymnastic School, the training Institution that worked with the "Royal Turin Gymnastics" headed by Lieutenant of the Guards Brigade Riccardo di Netro (Officer of the Bersaglieri Corps awarded with the Silver Medal to the Military Valour in the Battle of Novara).
In 1877 the National Gymnastics Federation appointed the Alpine General Luigi Peloux as President. The Royal Turin Gymnastics tried to spread other sport specialties such as fencing, horse riding, shooting gallery and swimming, creating a movement that promoted a progressive expansion of the sport for institutional and competitive purposes. Thanks to that new vision of the sport activity, the Army was able to train and recruit athletes who have made the history of the Italian sport.
The first Olympic medals were won at the Olympic Games in Paris in 1900 thanks to the Second Lieutenant Gian Giorgio Grissini, the Cavalry Officer who won a gold and a silver medals in horse riding, for the high and long jump. Many other champions have characterized the long history of the Italian sport of the Army; in fact 51 medals have been won during the summer Olympic Games and 10 medals during the winter Games.
Today, the sport in the Army is practiced throughout the national territory in the following Centres:
- Winter sports in Courmayeur;
- Horse riding in Montelibretti (Rieti);
- Parachuting in Pisa;
- Speedboat racing in Piacenza;
- Military Pentathlon in Lecce;
- Olympic sports in Rome.
The Army Sport Centre was founded on 30th September 2008 at the Barracks named after Captain Silvano Abba, a "Gold Medal to the Military Valour", after the following changes:
- from 1st January 1960 to 14th March 1990 as 1st Bersaglieri Athletes Special Company;
- from 15th March 1990 to 7th June 1992 as 1st Army Sport Centre;
- from 8th June 1992 to 20th December 1997 as 1st Athletes Special Unit;
- from 21st December 1997 to 11th July 1999 as Army Athletes Battalion;
- from 12th July 1999 to 30th September 2008 as Army Gymnastic Training Sport Centre.
Today the Army Sport Centre is located in Rome at the "Silvano Abba" Barracks where it has got modern and functional sport facilities. The Centre manages the Volunteer athletes in long-serving draft and in permanent service; it also coordinates the national and international sport activity of the Centres, through the Presidency Company located at the Sport Section of the General Staff of the Army. Moreover it plans and organizes stages and championships of Armed Force, it carries out training courses with the help of military Instructors of physical education, Federal technicians and University Professors (IUSM).
The sports practiced at the Centre are: track and field, cycling, gymnastics, judo, wrestling, karate, swimming, diving, modern pentathlon, boxing, fencing, weightlifting, taekwondo, shooting gallery, skeet shooting and triathlon.
Until today the Centre has got about 170 athletes of national and international interest, many of which are in the teams of the national Federations. Some examples are: Mauro Sarmiento (Olympic vice champion in 2008, 80 Kg category) and Veronica Calabrese (vice world champion in 2009) for the taekwondo; Daniele Meucci (bronze Medal in the European championship 2010, 10000 metres) and Elisa Cusma (bronze medal in the indoor European championship 2009, 800 metres) for the track and field; the divers Noemi Batki (gold medal in the European championship 2011, from the board) and Francesca Dallapè (gold medal in the European championship, for synchronized diving 3 metres); Alice Franco (bronze medal in the world championship 2011, 25 km), Valerio Cleri ( world and European champion in 2009 and 2010 for open water swimming) and Fabio Scozzoli (silver medal in the world championship 2011, in 50 and 100 metres for breaststroke swimming) for the swimming; Genny Pagliaro (silver medal in the European championship 2011, 48 kg category) for the weightlifting.