As multiculturalism has become the model for so many societies across the globe, it’s unsurprising that we see multi-faith activities creeping into our lives more and more. We have multi-faith schools, multi-faith community centres, multi-faith demonstrations when we all disagree with something, along with multi-faith shops, restaurants, workplaces, interests – you get the picture. We even have a week dedicated to all this stuff: Inter-Faith Week.
Sport is a great multi-faith activity too. Why? Because – unlike Salat, Shahada, and desperately trying to work out which Nando’s are halal – it’s something that people of any faith, background or world view often appreciate and share. A universal language; a tool to break down social barriers; a vehicle to bring you closer to your neighbours. And it’s going off in the world of multi-faith sports right now.
St Peter’s Cricket Club, a grassroots cricket team from the Vatican City, is comprised of players selected from theological colleges in Rome. This summer they’ve been touring England and had some exciting matches, one against the House of Commons, for example, and another against a team of young inmates housed in Belmarsh Prison.
The highlight of their tour, however, was a match-up against a multi-faith team from Yorkshire. Captained by Lord Patel of Bradford, also the chair of Social Work England and a director of the England and Wales Cricket Board, it is made up of Muslims, Hindus, Jews, Sikhs and Buddhists. A main sponsor was Muslim Aid.
Sabaa Nasim speaks from Lord’s cricket ground about our involvement in the Interfaith Cricket Tour organised by the Vatican to promote interfaith harmony
Posted by Muslim Aid on Friday, July 6, 2018
“Because the language of sports is universal, it extends across borders, language, race, religion, and ideology; it possesses the capacity to unite people together by fostering dialogue and acceptance,” Pope Francis said in a message of support he sent to the team on the day. He was quoting from his address to the European Olympic Committee in 2013.
In the end the Vatican clenched the victory:After 20 overs, Lord Patel’s team were all out for 124, 61 runs behind the Vatican’s team. It seems that adding diversity to a match could very well add to the excitement. Just ask Blackburn Rovers F.C. and the Inter Madrassah Organisation. On the same day as the match up in Lord’s, they teamed up to host the annual Multi-Faith Football Tournament at the club’s Senior Training Centre.
In an event which had a main aim of bringing different parts of the community together, hundreds of youth players from a wide range of junior teams in the North West converged in Blackburn for a chance to be crowned this year’s champs.
The tournament, with teams competing in the Under-13 and Under-7 categories, was supported by Blackburn Rovers Under-23s manager Damien Johnson along with two of his players – Matty Platt and Lewis Hardcastle. The trio observed a few of the matches unfold, offered help and advice and guidance to the young players and handed out trophies to the winners. Blackburn Rovers’ Academy scouts, not ones to miss a good opportunity, were also in attendance looking for any fresh talent to poach.
“The Multi-Faith Football Tournament is a great event and there were lots of spectators but more importantly children in attendance playing the sport that they love,” Stephen Jones, Inter Madrassah Organisation CEO, said.
He added: “This is what football does, so the IMO Multi-Faith Football Tournament is something we really want to push and continue our strong relationship with Blackburn Rovers.” We love this stuff; it’s hard to think of a better way of bringing different parts of the community together, fostering new connections, networks and friendships whilst also keeping everyone fit and healthy. This is what winning looks like.
Featured image credit: Muslim Aid via Facebook