For the first time, three teams have been crowned equal champions of Catholic Youth Parramatta’s LIFTED Sports Day.
After nine rounds consisting of basketball, volleyball, soccer and touch football, the “Finbar Fighters” from St Finbar’s Parish, Glenbrook, “OLR Impact” from Our Lady of the Rosary Parish, St Marys and “The FaithFeed Team” were declared joint winners of the event held at Patrician Brothers’ College, Blacktown, on Sunday 12 March.
Winners of the Holy Spirit Plate, “The Francescos” from Our Lady of the Rosary Parish, Kellyville, were voted by referees and team captains as playing with a great attitude, team spirit and sense of fun.
Team captain Judith-Grace expressed her pride in her team for overcoming their challenges and being recognised for their sportsmanship.
“Sport develops our ability to trust others and to trust their different gifts and strengths that they contribute. Hopefully that carries through not just for sports day, but for all the initiatives we do in the parish, particularly in the lead up to World Youth Day,” she said.
Parish communities coming together through sport
Strengthening community was one of the key reasons that parish teams participated in the LIFTED Sports Day.
Team captain Anna from first-time competitors “Youthworks” from St Andrew the Apostle Parish, Marayong, explained that the team had always wanted to compete in the Sports Day.
“Now that we’re rebuilding our youth group, we wanted to bring our community together and we thought this would be a great opportunity for us to do so because not only are we able to participate in our youth group, but as part of the wider Diocesan community,” she shared.
“Sport is a really good way to bring people together because sport is loved by all, it can be shared by all, regardless of your circumstances, playing ability, how new you are to the sport – it’s a place where everyone can feel safe and welcomed.”
Mattheas and Katelyn from “OLAngels” from Our Lady of the Angels Parish, Rouse Hill, agreed.
“We as a church group and youth groups, because we have younger members with a lot of energy, we love to play sports every second week at our youth events, so participating in a day like today, it’s just a big team-building exercise,” Mattheas said.
Katelyn added, “Each of the four sports show us our strengths and weaknesses, who were the people who are good, who are not so good and how we can help each other get better by cheering them on and affirming them as the day goes on.”
For Fr Paul Marshall, Rector of the Diocese’s Holy Spirit Seminary in Harris Park, having the young men discerning a calling to the priesthood competing in the LIFTED Sports Day shows them ministry beyond the seminary.
“I think they’ve engaged in a really wholehearted way. We’re a combined team with St Oliver’s Parish Harris Park, and throughout the day, you can see them growing in coordination, playing better together and improving – there’s a real beautiful energy.”
Parallels between sport and faith
Throughout the day, the young competitors understood that there were parallels between sport and faith and how strength in one area can reflect in the other.
“Sport is linked to our faith in the sense that it develops community,” Judith-Grace explained. “In any community, whether it be faith-based or otherwise, you need to rely on each other. That sense of reliance, working together and collaboration for a greater goal, whether that be winning or not or just having a really enjoyable day, I think community is where that relationship comes through.”
Anna added, “When I play sport, it’s easy for me to get inside my head and think it’s all about winning. But I need to be grounded and remember that God has given me this ability to play sport and to participate, so I need to give back the glory to Him. I can show the people that I verse God’s love through good sportsmanship and encouraging people from not only my team, but the other team as well.”
Katelyn said, “With sport, you have to work really hard to get where you want to go and have an end goal, and that’s the same with your spiritual life. With your faith, you need to work hard, be consistent and faithful in your prayer, going to Mass and Adoration so that you can be the person God wants you to be.”
“Spirituality engraved in the day”
CYP Project Coordinator Genevieve Lee, described seeing young people come together as a Diocesan community as “heart-warming”.
“Sports Day is one of our biggest events on the calendar, not because we bring people together from 13 or more parishes, but more so because sport is so inclusive,” she said.
“Sport brings the people on the outskirts of our Church – our young people – in and gives them an opportunity to showcase what they’re good at.
“It’s really encouraging to see teams encourage each other and cheer each other on. Seeing how they respond in the face of victory and defeat, they’re still really good and have the heart and humility to congratulate and support the other team.
“The aspects of discipline, unity and community knowing that we can’t play sport as an individual is the same as knowing that we can’t be Church as an individual – we need to come together for it.”
View images from the CYP LIFTED Sports Day here or below: