“The Ashtons” from Sacred Heart Parish, Mt Druitt South, have claimed back-to-back victories at the winter season of Catholic Youth Parramatta (CYP)’s LIFTED Sports Day.
More than 200 participants competed in a day of sporting action at Parramatta Marist High School, Westmead, on Sunday 16 May.
Players were itching to participate as the Sports Day was cancelled last year due to COVID, and the initial date in 2021 was postponed in April due to heavy rain.
‘Absolute joy’ in back-to-back wins
The 12 teams from across Western Sydney and the Blue Mountains competed in basketball, volleyball, soccer and touch football in a round-robin tournament.
Crowning of the champions came down to the final round of competition, with The Ashtons and the “Finbar Fighters” from St Finbar’s Parish, Glenbrook, vying for top spot.
“No words can describe the absolute joy of winning back-to-back,” The Ashtons team member Mitchell Farquharson told Catholic Outlook.
Annette Wiggins came along to the Sports Day to support her grandchildren, who were part of The Ashtons.
“I’ve been a parishioner for 42 years and it’s great to see the team win again, especially as The Ashtons! Fr Ashton has been a great support for my family and the parish over such a long period of time, and offers constant support and encouragement to the youth of our parish,” she said.
Good sportsmanship award winners ‘put up a good fight’
The “Stanhope Squad” from St John XXIII Parish, Glenwood-Stanhope Gardens, were recipients of the Holy Spirit Plate, which is awarded to the team that is voted by referees and team captains as “playing with a great attitude, team spirit and sense of fun.”
Team member Neville Reynolds explained that it was a great feeling to have claimed the Plate after six years in the competition.
“It was a little bit unexpected,” he said. “We’re very happy, we showed great teamwork, and good sportsmanship from everyone.”
Fellow team member Savio Gracias added, “we put up a good fight. We only came away with one win, but we were competitive in all matches. We didn’t give up.”
‘Jesus using sport to call us to something higher’
As the Sports Day was run on the Solemnity of the Ascension, to place the competitors in a spiritual frame of mind, Mass was celebrated on the pitch before kick-off.
Fr Jack Green from Mary, Queen of the Family Parish, Blacktown, told the young participants that Jesus uses sport in a means of calling them to something higher.
“The first way that Jesus uses sport, is that it can be used as a remedy for sin. In sport, we are using our bodies for what they are made for, and not misusing or abusing them – we are ordering our bodies in the right way.
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“The second way is that Jesus reveals our vices to us. There is a lot at stake here at the LIFTED Sports Day, and we can be exposed more honestly in our reactions. However, Christ does this to raise us up, to raise us from them and to call us out of them.
“Thirdly, Jesus forms virtues in us. Sport can accelerate the growing of inner virtues that can help with things like friendships and puts us in situations where we need these virtues.
“As we celebrate Jesus’ Ascension, we are reminded that He hasn’t left is. He is still active and working in us. He is calling us to strive for something more, and He uses sport to do that,” Fr Jack said.
Sport and faith interconnected
The connection between sports and faith has also been highlighted in a video produced by Catholic Youth Parramatta.
In the video, recorded at Parramatta’s Bankwest Stadium, James Camden, Director, CYP, and Qwayne Guevara, Local Engagement Leader, CYP, explain how beneficial playing sport is for young people, and how it can grow faith, drawing on the words of St Pope John Paul II and Pope Francis.
“The Church sees sport as a powerful instrument for the integral growth of each human person,” James explains.
Qwayne adds, “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.”
View images from the 2021 Winter Season of the CYP LIFTED Sports Day here or below.