In the Vatican City, people are considered earthlings who lead relatively healthy lives in the roaring and smoky metropolis of Rome. About half of the 44 ha enclave Stato della Citta del Vaticano it is green, since 2002 smoking is prohibited in the whole state and there is a speed limit of 30 kilometers per hour. To do something for the physical fitness and sense of community of Vatican employees, an independent football championship was started 50 years ago.
The Vatican League matches take place on the Roman outskirts of Primavera. 16 teams compete against each other on a small field with four outfield players and one goalkeeper; this reduction is necessary because teams are unable to field enough players. It was never enough for the Holy See to become a member of the International Olympic Committee or the FIFA and UEFA football associations, let alone participate in the World and European Championships, simply because there is no stadium in the Vatican. But what is not possible in football, sending a messenger from God’s representative on earth to the stage of international sports, becomes possible with the rules of cycling.
And here, 40-year-old Dutchman Rien Schoorhuys will actually wear the white and yellow of the Vatican this Sunday when the 266.9-kilometre UCI Road World Championships is held in the Australian coastal city of Wollongong. Groningen-born Schuurhuis competes Athletics Vatican, a sports organization founded in 2019. He is not the first athlete to start for the mini-state. Sicilian priest Don Vincenzo Puccio finished second for the Holy See in the 2019 Messina Marathon in 2 hours and 31 minutes. And 27-year-old Sara Carnicelli, the daughter of a Vatican employee, was an invited athlete at the Mediterranean Games that year, finishing ninth in the Oran Half Marathon.
In fact, Pope is better known for his love of soccer, but he also discovered cycling for himself
But when Athletica Vaticana managed to be officially accepted into the UCI’s umbrella organization last year, the jubilation of those in charge was certainly heard amid the holy silence of the confessors in St Peter’s Basilica. Considering “the smallness of the reality of the Vatican,” the official statement says, delightfully euphemistically, the UCI’s recognition is primarily aimed at promoting the practice of cycling as a community sporting experience, “focusing on service dimensions, satisfaction. , love, integration and solidarity”.
Of course, these lofty goals do not hinder the professional organization of the Vatican cycling delegation. It will be led by Valerio Agnoli, 37, a former professional cyclist who pedaled for the controversial Liquigas and Astana teams and made a name for himself as a water carrier for Vincenzo Nibali and Ivan Basso. “We are going to Australia as ambassadors of His Holiness,” Agnoli said, adding that Francis had actually blessed him personally.
In fact, the Pope is more famous for his love of football. “All we needed was a ball of rags to have fun and do wonders,” he says Gazzetta dello Sport reports on his ball-focused youth in Argentina. His nickname was “pata dura” which means “clumsy feet” so he always played goalkeeper “so I don’t have to move”.
In an audience at the European Cycling Federation’s annual congress, Francis also revealed his love for cycling. Whoever listened to him felt that he was in no way inferior to Don Camillo, that powerful and cunning priest who loved to ride on two wheels in the fictional town of Boscaccio. Cycling, Francis said, emphasizes certain virtues “such as perseverance, courage, honesty in following the rules, altruism and a sense of teamwork.”
For the Pope, doping is just “a shortcut that takes away dignity”.
It hasn’t escaped him that in cycling in particular, rules are often bent and broken with passion until the gendarmerie come to attack them. Doping, says Francis in an excellent definition, is more than cheating. Specifically “a shortcut that demands dignity and tries to steal the spark that God has mysteriously given some people in a special or greater way.”
Just how big the spark that has been given to Schurhuis can perhaps be shown on Sunday. So far he has competed as a professional for the Black Inc Cycling Team and Oliver’s Real Food, mostly in smaller races in Asia. Schurhuis moved to Rome two years ago to prepare for what is now her biggest sporting challenge in Australia. He likes to start his daily workouts there on the busy Lungovere Boulevard along the Tiber. “I have to admit that this is one of the funnest parts of my training, also because of the reflexes I have to keep showing in the dense, chaotic Roman traffic,” Schurhuis told the Vatican newspaper. L’Osservatore Romano told.