By Devin Watkins
On his first morning in Maputo, following Mass in the Apostolic Nunciature, Pope Francis met privately with a group of leaders and participants in programs promoted by the Scholas Occurentes Foundation, along with the local director, Enrique Adolfo Palmeyro.
Matteo Bruni, the Director of the Holy See Press Office, announced the spontaneous encounter.
In off-the-cuff remarks, the Pope told the young students about his own childhood in Buenos Aires.
He noted that young people often play on Mozambique’s beautiful beaches with a soccer ball made from strips of cloth, and recalled his own youthful experience.
“When I was a child I played with a ball made of cloth strips,” he said, “because at that time soccer balls were made of leather and were very expensive.”
Sport and work
The Pope said that, in Argentina, “cloth-strip balls became a cultural symbol of that time, so much so that a popular Argentine poet even wrote a poem entitled “cloth-strip ball”.
He concluded his brief remarks saying that sport and work go hand-in-hand.
“With this symbol, you gather the entire story of amateur sport – and the work that goes into it – as well as joy for the game,” he said.