Vatican Christians and Muslims Bond Through Cricket
Rome: In a first for world sport, the Vatican cricket team took on an all-Muslim side from England last fortnight, with the home squad clinching narrow win in the final minutes. “It is not about who wins or loses,” priest Eamonn O’Higgins, manager of the Vatican team told AFP, after leading the enthusiastic players in a prayer and rousing hymn on the bus journey to the match. “It is about building bridges between different faiths through cricket,” he said as they arrived at Rome’s Capanelle cricket ground. The Muslim Mount CC team landed in the Italian capital and were treated to a tour of St. Peter’s Basilica and the Vatican Museums prior to the match in hot Roman sunshine. The two teams were also set to dine together and attend mass at the Vatican on Sunday. “The hospitality has been outstanding and it is such a honour to be here,” said Hanif Mayet, Mount CC’s chair. He founded the club in 1976 after claims of racism in Yorkshire in northern England made, joining an all-white cricket club an almost impossible task. Desperate to play, Mayet put together a team with friends. French said he hoped the Vatican team would come for a return match next year, and if all goes well, it could take place at Yorkshire’s home ground of Headingley. John McCarthy, Australian Ambassador to the Vatican and founder of the Vatican Cricket club, said the game met “all my expectations and all my hopes about what could be done through interfaith and ecumenical sports associations of this sort”.