Pope says sports coaches must be models of integrity for young people
(Vatican Radio) In a message to participants at an international seminar on the role of sports coaches, Pope Francis spoke of the crucial role that trainers play, especially in the lives of young people. The two day seminar has been organised by the Sports department of the Pontifical Council for the Laity and is focusing on the professional, personal and spiritual formation of sports coaches as role models for the next generation.
Philippa Hitchen reports:
In the message to seminar participants, Pope Francis said we all need wise, mature and well-balanced people in our lives to help us grow in faith, in family relationships and in our working lives. A true educator, he continued, is a person who encourages us to take on a new activity without fear, helps to have confidence in ourselves and our companions and supports us in times of difficulty as well as at moments of joy and success.
During childhood and adolescence, he said, this is particularly important as we look for role models and feel the need to be affirmed and appreciated. During this delicate phase, Pope Francis said, the responsibility of trainers is huge since they can have great influence over both the behaviour and the development of a child’s personality. Above all, he said, coaches must be models of integrity and impartiality, joy and patience, since young people will be influenced more by a person’s behaviour than by his or her words.
Finally, Pope Francis spoke of the importance of faith and spirituality which help us to preserve the authentic values of sport, rather than letting them be driven by the rowing pressure of economic interests. Trainers, he said, can play a vital role in creating a climate of solidarity and inclusion, reaching out to young people at risk on the margins of society.