Francis met with members of Italy’s National Amateur League, a football (soccer) association, on the 60th anniversary of its foundation, telling them that overcoming “all the walls that unjustly divide people” is a goal that can be achieved “by promoting the involvement and appreciation of everyone on the basis of a team spirit that is the true hope of humanity.”
Vatican City (AsiaNews) – Pope Francis on Monday received representatives of Italy’s National Amateur (football) League (Lega Nazionale Dilettanti), on the 60th anniversary of its foundation. The pontiff expressed hope in a "cultural revolution" that would strengthen a "mindset of solidarity" that cares about people, including the weakest, and the environment.
In his address, the Pope also talked about team play, an attitude of outreach needed to create “fields without barriers”, overcoming “all the walls that unjustly divide people,” a goal that can be achieved “by promoting the involvement and appreciation of everyone on the basis of a team spirit that is the true hope of humanity.”
"Having a spirit of solidarity, through an ‘active participation in the development of the social and cultural life of the community’ (Ethics Code, Art 2.1), means reaching out to those who have fallen or suffered a foul, or are limping because of an injury. It means not to denigrate those who do not excel, but to treat them as equals. It means understanding that the championship cannot begin if one is alone, and that even in our society one can be saved only with others, whilst one gets lost if one allows those who are weaker to remain on the margins and feel excluded."
It is a question of clearly knowing the "true objectives", the "goals". This is fundamental in a cultural context that pushes people to "run without stopping", leaving gaps in the soul and turning "time into a race without a clear aim" not because one can always win, but to be aware of what one is doing and of the most appropriate means to achieve the result.
In this sense, sports are a "challenging gym" because they require not only technical skill, but also team spirit, willingness to work with others, to be positive. It is of little use to strike the ball well if one is not then able to discuss with calm with the referee or opponents or if one does not accept missing a penalty.
With respect to playing, Francis stressed the importance of parents finding time to play with their children.
"When I confess parents, dads and mothers, and they tell me they have young children, the first question I ask is: ‘But you do you play with your children?’ And many times, they say: ‘I have no time’ or ‘It hadn’t thought about it’. Please, when this ability to play with children is lost in a family, a very important aspect is lost.”
Likewise, “Let’s think about society. You too can ‘preach’ that playing is not just in the stadium, when matches are played but it is also . . . It goes further, it goes to the families, it goes . . . Like this example."