• Wednesday, July 24, 2024

CRICKET

Vatican cricket team scores runs, friendship on UK tour

The Vatican (St Peter’s) Cricket Team mainly consists of theological students in Rome. Their tours aim to promote friendship between the Catholic Church and the host country.

The team was on a week-long UK tour, having already played against the England over-60s team. (Photo credit: X/@VaticanNews)

By: Vivek Mishra

A GROUP of Catholic priests and seminarians from the Vatican cricket team, dressed in clerical collars and yellow blazers, gathered outside St James’s Palace. They were ready to play against the King’s XI at Windsor Castle.

“Wherever we go, we always wear the clerical shirts,” said team captain Father Joseph Ettolil. “It’s not because we are famous cricketers, but because the Vatican cricket team is famous.”

The team was on a week-long UK tour, having already played against the England over-60s team and St Mary’s University, Twickenham. This was their tenth foreign tour since their founding in 2014, with previous tours including trips to Kenya, Argentina, Malta, and Spain, reported The Times.

The Vatican (St Peter’s) Cricket Team mainly consists of theological students in Rome. Their tours aim to promote friendship between the Catholic Church and the host country.

“All of the priests and seminarians who play on the team generally have the instincts for cricket,” said Dane Kirby, the team’s coach. “Most of them haven’t played with a hard ball until they get to Rome.”

The team is overseen by Vatican Athletics. Pope Francis emphasised the power of sport to “build bridges, break down barriers, and foster peaceful relations.”

Before their match against the King’s XI, the Pope hoped the game would “promote Christian unity.” The King expressed his delight at the match, stating both sides were “brought together by a love of cricket.”

The King’s XI, composed of household members, won the match in a tense 20-over game, reported the newspaper. The Vatican side had won against St Mary’s University but lost to the England Seniors’ teams.

Father Eamonn O’Higgins, the team’s manager, urged players to make a positive impression as they might be the only Catholic priests some people would ever meet. The team embraced this, engaging politely with curious onlookers.

Chris Trott, the UK’s ambassador to the Holy See, noted the visit would help build diplomatic and church relations, The Times reported. “Sport builds friendship and overcomes barriers,” he said.

This year’s team included players from Kerala, India, a region with an ancient Christian community.

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