Pope receives amateur athletes Pope receives amateur athletes  (Vatican Media)

Pope Francis says sport is a metaphor for life

Pope Francis greets members of an Amateur sports association and urges them to follow three rules, both in sports and in life.

By Francesca Merlo

Addressing members of an Amateur Sports Association (Associazione Dilettantistica Sportiva) in the Vatican on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the establishment of the Vatican Football League, Pope Francis noted that since the first football match in the Belvedere Courtyard in 1521 in the presence of Pope Leo X, the Association now includes other sports disciplines.  

The Holy Father told those present that when they travel for championships they are "called upon to bear witness to your bond with the Holy See". He explained that healthy athleticism is an activity that can contribute to the maturation of the spirit, and outlined three fundamental rules for an athlete.


The first of these rules is training, said the Pope. "The thought immediately goes to toil, sweat, sacrifice", he said, noting that underlying this is a passion for one's sport. The amateur side of it expresses one's love for the sport and the pleasure with which one does an activity, said the Pope. "If there is this attitude, the competition is healthy; otherwise, if interests of various kinds prevail, the competition is spoilt, sometimes it can even become corrupt".


Pope Francis then went on to speak of discipline, describing it as an aspect of education. He explained that "a disciplined athlete is not just one who observes the rules", he or she is the one who wants to learn. "The true sportsperson always seeks to learn, to grow, to improve and this requires, precisely, discipline", said the Pope. 


Finally, Pope Francis spoke of motivation, describing it as the element which drives and ultimately leads to good results. "The test is not on the numerical result, but on how faithful and consistent we have been to our call".

Bringing his discourse to a close, Pope Francis asked that these three elements also be reflected in everyday life, stressing that "sport is a metaphor for life."

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09 February 2023, 13:00