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The Vatican sports, coaching, and character


Pope Francis has made clear that he believes sports are crucial to the formation of young people. He also has a message for athletes: They have a responsibility beyond the playing field. 

"As athletes you have a mission to accomplish: to be sound models for those who admire you. You too-managers, coaches, and staff-are called to give positive testimony about human values. You should promote a fair and clean game.”

The Vatican recently organized a meeting in which athletes, managers and coaches from around the world could reflect on the coach's role.

"Church and Sports” section, Pontifical Council for the Laity
"They play a direct role and are face to face with the athlete. They can provide an example of how to live with values and faith.”

According to the Pope, education and sports are necessary ingredients for young people to develop a healthy lifestyle and avoid bad habits, like drug use.

Raymond McKenna is president of the Association of Catholic athletes, an organization that tries to influence everyday life in society through sports.

President, "Catholic Athletes for Christ" (USA)
"One example is the coach Vince Lombardi. He was an American football coach with the Green Bay Packers. And he influenced all of his players because of his work habits and his strong devotion to his faith.”

Choosing a good coach is key to the development of an athlete, according to one famous Filipino basketball player. He said that solid coaching is necessary in a highly competitive sport. However, coaching isn't easy.

Professional basketball player (Philippines)
"Sometimes when you tell them directly 'what you should do,' it doesn’t work. It doesn't always work, and most of the times it doesn't work because they don’t want to be told to do a certain thing. I think for me the most powerful way is just lead by example.”

The seminar was organized by the "Church and Sport" section of the Pontifical Council for the Laity. It is the first time that the Vatican has directly studied the role of coaches in personal development.