Adapted from ACNS
The first global conference sponsored by Sport in the Service of Humanity met at the Vatican in early October, and 100 guests discussed how sport can be used to enrich lives worldwide.
The Rev. Andy Bowerman, co-executive director of the Anglican Alliance, attended the three-day conference alongside athletes, coaches, managers, and corporate sponsors.
Experts in areas such as sport medicine, psychology, and education also joined the discussion. Conference organizers hope to foster a worldwide movement that will enrich lives by helping people build trust and learn cooperation, foster friendship, live healthy lives, and have fun through sport.
“We have a responsibility to help and share sports benefits,” Pope Francis said in an opening ceremony. “I wish to encourage all of you — institutions, sporting societies, educational and social organizations, religious communities — to work together to ensure the most vulnerable children can take up sport in circumstances of dignity, especially those who are excluded due to poverty, war or hunger.”
“Sport has the power to teach positive values and enrich lives. Everyone who plays, organizes and supports sport has the opportunity to be transformed by it and to transform others,” Bowerman said. “There are many correlations with faith, in the belief that transformation is possible for everyone, no matter where they are or what circumstances they find themselves in.”
The opening ceremony also featured speeches by Ban Ki-moon, secretary general of the United Nations, and Thomas Bach, president of the International Olympic Committee. The conference was organized by the Pontifical Council for Culture with the cooperation of the United Nations and the International Olympic Committee.
The Anglican Alliance has made plans since the conference to engage with the Premier League, the United Nations refugee agency, and other ecumenical partners to strengthen responses to the refugee crisis in Europe and throughout the Middle East and East Africa using football as a tool.
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Statement from the Conference
Sport has the power to celebrate our common humanity, regardless of faith, race, culture, beliefs, gender and ability.
Sport can bring us together — to meet one another across borders and boundaries, to learn to compete as friends, to respect and trust one another even in opposition.
Sport has the power to teach positive values and enrich lives. Every one of us, who plays, organizes and supports sport, has the opportunity to be transformed by it and to transform others.
Many people are deprived of sport through lack of opportunity, prejudice, or vested interest. We have a responsibility to help and share its benefits.
Sport challenges us to stretch ourselves further than we thought possible.
Sport can be distorted if we lose sight of the sheer joy it brings us.
While we strive for excellence in sport, it is more important to aim for excellence as human beings.
Declaration of Six Key Principles
- Compassion • Use the Power of Sport to Help Others — Share the benefits of sport to empower those who are poor and disadvantaged.
- Respect • Use Sport to Build Trust and Understanding — Respect your opponents. Through sport understand them and their culture more deeply. Condemn violence in sport — on and off the field of play.
- Love • Sport Is for All — Do all you can to help everyone take part in sport. Do all you can to enable everyone to compete on equal terms.
- Enlightenment • Sport Has the Power to Transform Lives and Build Character — Learn graciousness in victory and perspective in defeat. Apply the values you learn in sport to help you excel in life.
- Balance • Sport Has the Power to Help Us Make the Most of Ourselves — So play it in the knowledge that it can revitalize you physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually. At every stage of life, play for fun, for health, for friendship.
- Joy • Sport, Above All, Is About Enjoyment — So enjoy it! And remember, there is more to sport than winning, but when you compete, be and do the best you can, always.