IT'S NOT THE WINNING THAT COUNTS...

IT'S NOT THE WINNING THAT COUNTS...

Aside from studying, praying or doing pastoral work, it is important that seminarians make time to relax! One way of doing this is in sporting pursuits, and especially, as Anthony Caruana describes, on the football pitch or at the ping-pong table.

ClericusVsFrench 003Sit mens sana in corpore sano (a healthy mind in a healthy body) goes the old Latin adage. That sport and spirituality can and must complement each other is proven to us by none other than the Spiritual Director: our fitness (and spirituality!) guru who completed the Rome marathon successfully last March after months of arduous preparation and raising funds for charity in the process. The student body, however, seems to tend towards sports of a more laid-back nature- if at all!-with table-tennis and football proving the most popular.

Table-tennis (affectionately called 'ping' by students), unknown in the college for a number of years, experienced a sudden revival a couple of years ago when a table-tennis top was unearthed in the college basement. Before you could say 'Jeff Plumb!' the table was cleaned and assembled; nets, bats and balls purchased; Rules printed off (anonymously, I insist!) and a new table-tennis season was underway.ping A 'ladder' is regularly kept, featuring students and members of staff. Challenges between players attempting to retain or improve their rank are serious affairs, sometimes even featuring ad hoc commentaries. At the time of writing the tussle for the top spot features the best table-tennis talent from the Edinburgh and Motherwell dioceses.

Sport however is also about team effort. Enter the beautiful game. Given the reduced numbers that we had for a couple of years, the college footballers had to concentrate on 5-a-side football. This paid remarkable dividends. The annual showcase for 5-a-side Home Nation Pontifical talent is the Ragheed Cup. The Cup is named after Fr Ragheed Ganni, an Iraqi Catholic priest who was shot and murdered after saying Mass in his parish church in Mosul. Before returning home, Fr Ragheed had trained at the Irish College, where he featured regularly for the college side. Hence this 5-a-side tournament, played in May between the Scots, English, Beda and Irish Colleges was aptly named after him.

ClericusVsBrazil 015The trophy has been sitting proudly in our students' common room for three years now. Two years ago we won the trophy without conceding a single goal. Last year, however, it went down to the wire - beating our Irish hosts by a single goal from the penalty spot. So far this year we he have sparred with all three colleges.

We decided to take a long-term psychological approach to winning the tournament by giving the other colleges a false sense of security, pretending not to be too good in these friendlies. We accomplished this with considerable success! However noble and competitive the Ragheed Cup might be, the Holy Grail in terms of inter-college football tournaments is the coveted Clericus Cup. This 11-a-side tournament organized by the Centro Sportivo Italiano and with the backing of the Vatican, features 16 teams drawn from the various Pontifical Colleges and Universities of Rome.

ClericusVsBrazil 016Our college did take part two years ago: combining our squad with those of the Beda and English Colleges. We were eliminated after the group stages after a string of negative mixed results. After last year's pause for reflection we are back with a vengeance with players from all four colleges, complete with new name (Anglo-Celtic Colleges Utd.) and a new manager. We decided to follow the Irish and English FAs in the latter matter and have engaged an Italian manager of good pedigree!

Results so far have been… mixed… but, thanks to sterling performances in goal from the Vice- Rector, Matthew Carlin's lion-like leadership and Martin Mc-Cauley's inexhaustible enthusiasm all hope is not yet lost for next year!