A sporting chance for growing faith

By Christina Gretton, 5 April 2021


On this International Day of Sport for Development and Peace (6 April), and as winter sports start their 2021 season, Catholic Youth Parramatta (CYP) are launching an engaging and fun video filmed at Parramatta’s Bankwest Stadium, explaining the close relationship between sport and faith. Young people in the Diocese of Parramatta have been quick to respond.

Drawing on the words of St John Paul II, the video explains how beneficial playing sport is for young people and how it can grow faith.

Qwayne Guevara, Local Engagement Leader of CYP explained, “Sport’s inclusiveness means all young people can be involved and gain a sense of purpose, including what John Paul II described as ‘a healthy sense of competition’.

“Sport teaches us discipline and intentionality,” she said.

“Practice is important in growth. Choosing to be open to suffering is part of getting better at sport. In a similar way, our faith isn’t just something that we push to the side and expect to grow.

“It takes practice, and often discomfort, for us to deepen our faith. Sport shows us that this is possible.”

In addition to faith, Qwayne explained how sport benefits young people’s relationships with others.

“With culture focusing on the ‘self’ more than ‘others’, sport encourages selflessness and affirms a young person dignity and capacity to contribute in a team, community and as such, the world,” she said.

The video explains how Pope Francis has expanded on this theme, describing how sports helps us “go beyond ourselves and our own self-interest.”

Sport’s positive influence on our world recognised by the United Nations

The CYP team also drew inspiration from the United Nations which promotes the benefits of sport for the positive development of our world on the International Day of Sport for Development and Peace on 6 April.

“The beauty of sport is its ability to break down barriers. Whether it’s competitive or social, sport bridges gaps and allows people to see each other face-to face. In sport, we come together, realise our limitations but it opens our eyes to see what’s possible when we work together,” said Qwayne.

She pointed out that the great moments of sport are usually the result of a team’s struggle or sacrifice. “It’s a demonstration of what commitment can achieve,” she said.

“Sport is a great ‘boundary crosser’. Everyone needs to learn to play fairly, to work as a team, and treat others as equals. That’s in addition to its physical fitness and anxiety-reducing qualities which were particularly helpful dealing with everyday life through the pandemic,” she said.

The video concludes with a prayer for all sports-lovers to consider as they get ready for their winter competitions:

Lord Jesus Christ

Help us to be witnesses

To your love through sport

Help us to achieve a cohesive unity of body and soul

And to use sport for the common good of all.

Already young people in the Diocese of Parramatta have commented that the video is helping them see how their participation in sport can be part of building their faith.

“One young person explained to me that content helped them understand that sport can be a part of building faith. It helped show that even in sport, God is still there teaching us something new,” said Qwayne, an early indication of the potential for this resource in schools, youth groups and of course, sporting groups.

Since 2008 Catholic Youth Parramatta have run sports days for young people in the parishes of the Diocese of Parramatta. Due to demand, the sports days are now held twice a year attended by 400 young people each time.

“It’s a practical way of connecting young people with their faith,” said Qwayne.

To watch the video Sport and Faith, head to thewell.org.au .

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