Pope: Basketball helps young people ‘look up’

Pope Francis highlights teamwork and discipline as important aspects of sports activities in his address to a delegation from the Italian Basketball Federation.

By Vatican News Editor

Pope Francis received a delegation from the Italian Basketball Federation (FIP) on Monday as it celebrates a centenary since its creation.

Founded in 1921, FIP is the national basketball body in Italy. She is a member of the International Basketball Federation (FIBA) and is responsible for the organization of competitions in Italy and in the Italian basketball leagues.

Addressing those in charge of the governing body, the Pope praised President Giovanni Petrucci’s words of greeting and recalled a match played in 1955 in St. Peter’s Square in front of Pope Pius XII.

The Holy Father also underlined the relationship between the Church and the world of sport, which has been cultivated with the awareness that “both, in different ways, are at the service of the integral growth of the person and can make a contribution. valuable to our society. “

Teamwork to fight against individualism

Pope Francis then focused on two important aspects of sports activities: teamwork and discipline.

He noted that although some sports are “individual”, sports bring people – often from unfamiliar and different backgrounds – to form relationships with each other in order to “come together and fight for a common goal”.

“Two things are important: to be united and to have a goal”, declared the Pope, adding that in this sense, sport becomes “a medicine for the individualism of our societies”, which sometimes creates isolated, sad individuals. and unable to be “team players.” “And to” cultivate a passion for good ideals “.

The commitment to sport, continued the Pope, reminds us “of the value of fraternity, which is also at the heart of the Gospel”.

Discipline: a training and education school

“The attitude of the athlete is discipline,” Pope Francis stressed, adding that many people passionate about sport often do not know how much work and training is required for a competition.

Speaking further, he noted that the discipline is not only physical, but also internal, as it requires “physical exercise, consistency, attention to an orderly life in scheduling and nutrition, as well as rest alternating with fatigue from training ”.

This discipline, continued the Pope, “is a school of formation and education”, especially for young people, because, in the words of Saint Ignatius of Loyola, it helps “to put order in one’s life”.

At the same time, it “does not aim to make us rigid, but to make us responsible: for ourselves, for the things entrusted to us, for others, for life in general”.

Discipline for the spiritual life

Pope Francis also noted that discipline helps the spiritual life “which cannot be left to emotions alone nor can be experienced in alternating phases” or when appropriate.

In this sense, it also requires “an interior discipline made up of fidelity, constancy and daily commitment to prayer” because “without constant interior formation, faith runs the risk of dying out.

Promote healthy play

Turning his thoughts to the sport of basketball, Pope Francis reiterated the words of a famous basketball player who said that “it is a sport that looks up, towards the basket, and therefore it is a real challenge. for all those who are used to living with it. their eyes still on the ground.

On this note, the Holy Father urged the governing body to “promote healthy play among children and young people, to help young people look up, never give up and discover that life is a made way. losses and victories. “

All in all, the Pope stressed that the important thing is that young people do not lose the desire to “play the game” and understand that even if they do not “do the trick”, they have not lost forever. .

“You can always go back to court, you can always team up with others, and you can try another blow,” Pope Francis said.

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