The Vatican is about to form its own cricket club. The initiative is the idea of Australia’s ambassador to the Holy See, John McCarthy, who is an avid cricket fan, reports The Catholic Herald.
Officials at the Vatican's Pontifical Council for Culture, which has a section dedicated to sport, are setting up the first-ever Vatican club and tournament in Rome.
Already one match has been played between two Vatican universities – the Maria Mater Ecclesiae International Pontifical College and the Pontifical Urbaniana University – on a pitch near Rome’s Ciampino airport.
'It was an interesting match,' says Xavarian Father Theodore Mascarenhas, an Indian official at the Pontifical Council for Culture who will chair the new Vatican cricket board. 'They played a Twenty-Twenty and Ubaniana won by just one run.'
The plan is to extend other twenty over matches to more Rome colleges and even further afield. 'We hope to have at least six teams,' says Father Mascarenhas. The underlying aim of the initiative, he says, is to start 'a kind of inter-cultural dialogue.'
Players will be drawn from the many seminaries and pontifical universities in Rome, as well as Vatican officials. Father Mascarenhas believes around 400 cricket fans reside in the Eternal City. They include seminarians from the Venerable English College, of course, but also many others, often missionaries, from the Indian sub-continent and Africa, as well as Australia, the West Indies and New Zealand.
The Vatican also has a star player of its own. Father Tony Currer, an official in the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, played club cricket for Durham until he moved to Rome last month to oversee dialogue with the Anglican Communion. 'I came to Rome thinking I probably wouldn’t play much cricket anymore,' he says, 'but it looks like there’s going to be a very good standard.'