The Rome Football League which kicked-off on saturday was joined by three (3) other new teams, one of which is the St. Peter’s Basilica’s Priests and altar boys. Normally the Rome Football League teams are made-up of priests and seminarians. They will be in this league tournament playing against 15 other teams, fielding players from 65 different countries in the world.
Two other new teams formed this year are made up of Consolata Missionaries and the Missionary Servants of the Poor. The Missionary Servants team is actually a mix of players from eight different religious congregations that did not have enough players to field their own team, said a team spokesman.
Four of the 16 teams in the 2016 series have played since the tournament’s founding. It was established in 2006 after Italian Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone — an avid football fan — pitched the idea to the Catholic Italian Sports Centre.
Part of the series’ mission is to challenge players to live out their Christian values on the field and offer the world a more ethical role model in sportsmanship. In addition to the traditional yellow and red cards signaling foul play and expulsion from the game, the tournament includes a unique “sin bin” blue card, which is a five-minute “purgatory” for players who get carried away and need time to cool down.
The Rome-based series has also been a great way for students to build team spirit with their fellow housemates and create new friendships with students from other parts of the world, said Martin Amaro, a first-year theology student from the Diocese of Little Rock studying at the North American College.
There are more 300 players who have signed up with various teams for this year’s league, majority which are nationals of Mexico, Nigeria, and United States, others are Syria, China, East Timor, South Sudan and Madagascar.
The league competition have already kicked-off on Saturday, it’s semi-finals are scheduled for May 21 and the final on May 28.