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  March 2021  
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Pope on sports: "A pathway to life, maturity and holiness"
A Sampdoria player during a game19 February 2021. Pope Francis meets with the president, coach and players of Italy's Sampdoria football team of Genoa.

By Amedeo Lomonaco

Sport in general, and football in particular, can be "a pathway of life, maturity and holiness", the Pope said in greeting the Sampdoria football team founded in 1946 in the northern Italian city of Genoa. He recalled that "you can never go forward all on your own", but "always as a team".

The Pope pointed out two central characteristics that regard sports. 

The first is that everything is done as a team. "The best wins are those that come as a team". He said that where he comes from, a football player who only plays the game with himself in mind, "hogs the ball", taking it all to himself, without regard for the other players. Instead, he continued, "we must always work as a team." 

The second point he made was to not lose sight of amateur sports, an activity that comes from a vocation of wanting to get involved and do things. It is important that there always be amateur sports he stressed.

The president of Sampdoria, Massimo Ferrero, and the coach of the Ligurian team, Claudio Ranieri, thanked the Pope for receiving them in the Vatican. The team gave the Pope a Sampdoria jersey with the words “Papa Francesco” and a commemorative pennant of the meeting.