Game time in Vatican City
The grass is green, adrenaline is in the air, and with spring in Rome, comes the Clericus Cup. Samaritans from around the world put on their cleats and head to the pitch for a good game of football (i.e. field for soccer).
According to this article, the North Americans Martyrs are still in the tournament, gearing up for the semi-finals against the defending champs, the Collegio Internazionale Maria Mater Ecclesiae. While competition has gotten heated in the past, this tournament isn't all about winning.
The tournament also promotes the value of sports and shows that athletes and fans can be competitive, yet civil.
Most valuable, in my opinion, is the idea that sports can be a tool for reaching out to people, particularly kids. There's the classic example of CYO basketball, of course. I recently visited a Claretian parish on Chicago's Southwest side where a youth leader said that flag football connects at-risk kids to the church. As an Ultimate Frisbee player (yes it's a sport and no, it doesn't involve dogs), I know a number of people who have brought Ultimate to foreign countries as volunteers with the Peace Corps or other programs.
All you need is to offer a sport with little equipment, and kids will come your way. Then, the Chicago youth worker explained to me, you can establish a relationship with them. Sounds like a good thing for seminarians to learn between studying theology and history.
For those of you with a competitive streak, North American team should be recruiting this pro-soccer player turned seminarian out of Mount St. Mary’s. The future is bright for the Martyrs!