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Pope Francis’ important message to those participating in sport



Cerith Gardiner - published on 12/01/23

The pontiff welcomed the Celtic Football Club from Glasgow and shared some meaningful insights into the world of soccer and sport in general.

Despite being under the weather, Pope Francis welcomed Glasgow’s Celtic Football Club before Wednesday’s general audience. Unfortunately, due to his cold, he wasn’t able to speak as much as he wished. However, what he did say was not only pertinent to the club, it is sage advice for sports’ lovers everywhere.

The Scottish club had just participated in the Champions League the day before, and sadly lost against the home club, Lazio. Although suffering from the defeat the day before, the team seemed delighted to have the opportunity to meet Pope Francis.

While the team presented the pope — an ardent soccer fan — with their football jersey and the Celtic cross, the 86-year-old pontiff shared some very important advice, as shared by the Spanish news outlet Cope:

What matters most is the example you set, both winning and losing, on and off the field.”

The Pontiff further advised:

“Be good role models, especially for young people. The high level you are called to reach does not only refer to your sporting skills or to the classical requirements necessary to excel, but also has to do with your personal integrity.”

Inspire through your example

And while this message is certainly true of professional athletes in whatever sport they participate in, it also rings true for anyone playing a game in which they might have the opportunity to inspire the spectators.

A parent, for example, playing a Sunday game of ice hockey with their children looking on, can show their offspring how to play courteously and be gracious in defeat, or when winning.

And this was echoed by Pope Francis when he stated the need to maintain a level of amateurism, playing out of a sense of pure love for the sport and one’s team, sharing:

“Whether we win or not, it doesn’t matter. Everyone fights to win, but victory is not the goal, that can be defeat: victory comes from playing together, from playing as a team. Maintaining amateurism. That is the most beautiful thing about sport.”

This notion is definitely one we can pass on to our children. After all the pope is keen to highlight the ways sport can be a unifying factor. And in fact the Celtic Football Club was founded as a “charitable initiative” to try and “alleviate poverty” in Glasgow, as Francis pointed out — highlighting once more the power of sport to do go good.

FamilyPope FrancisSports
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