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Athletes explain how faith has led them to where they are now

Sports and faith have the power to move masses. As such, this week the Vatican gathered famous athletes to join forces to improve the world at the Global Conference, "Sport at the Service of Humanity." In addition to the athletes, leaders and representatives of various religions talked about how faith has helped them throughout their life. Jamaican athlete and Olympic medalist, Charmaine Crooks, knows that believing in yourself is important, but taking a deep breath and having faith can sometimes change everything. CHARMAINE CROOKS  Athlete "I've had some past personal experiences where I had to draw on my own faith. Having been around in so many Olimpics, and running, and having a lot of challenges. Having injuries but, you know, really believing that through faith I can come out of that. And being able to share that with others is also very important." It is not strange to see soccer players make the sign of the Cross or point to the sky in thanksgiving from the goal line. They not only turn toward God when they need to score a goal, but when they need to overcome a difficult situation, like an injury. KASHIF SIDDIQI Athlete and cofounder, Football For Peace "In sports or wherever in life, you face a lot of hurdles and this opportunity gets you to believe that something will get you through it. God has been the one thing that has got me through all the bad times of my life. I had an operation in 2011 and they cut the wrong nerve of my hip and I was out for three years, but my faith in God drove me through it and we're here today.â? Some experience it first-hand and others witness from the sideline how faith encourages and helps others tackle the obstacles in everyday life. The president of the NY Giants, John K. Mara, has spent years watching his players "find refuge" in the faith. JOHN. K MARA President, NY Giants "I think a lot of our players take their faith very seriously. All of our players, at the end of every game, they all yell and say the Our Father prayer after each game and that is a very unifying aspect of our team. You see a lot of players around the league that do the same thing. And I think with a lot of our players, it carries over to how they conduct themselves off the field too.â? Sports and faith have a lot in common and share common life values â??â??such as discipline, respect, perseverance and love. This is evident not only in professional sports, but even in children when they passionately attend practice. This conference made the message from Pope Francis tangible: "In sports, just as in life, it is important to fight for the end goal, but to play well and with loyalty is even more important." AQ/MB MG FL - PR up:MB