Third year Ballarat Diocese seminarian, William Lowry, reflects on the inter-seminary soccer tournament. William rejoices in Corpus Christi College seminary’s grand final win in the tournament and the opportunity to bring home the inter-seminary cup for the first time in the 20 year history of the competition.
On Saturday, July 28, more than 200 seminarians (and formation staff) from seven seminaries across Australia, descended upon the Western Sydney suburb of Chester Hill for the inter-seminary soccer tournament. Which I say with absolute delight (spoiler alert!) the seminarians of Corpus Christi won (graciously of course!).
During the weeks and months leading up to the competition the Corpus Christi seminarians had been training hard, trying to keep up their fitness and ball skills. However, naturally, the facts of life intervene, that is; the fact of exams, holidays, pastoral placements, retreats etc. Coming into the competition then, some of the brothers were perturbed. Despite the lack of training late in the game, the brothers still had an unflagging hope though, fixed in Christ, and their captain, Confidence Masvosva; and so the stage was set.
We arrived at our ‘adequate,’ boarding at a local hotel after an extensive drive (for most), from Melbourne on the Friday afternoon. Despite the drive, spirits were high and didn’t take long before the chants began. After a siesta and shower, we headed to the Redemptoris Mater seminary of the Neo-Catechumenal Way for Solemn Evening Prayer and Dinner. We were, during the tournament under the kind patronage of the combined efforts of both the Neo-Cats’ and the Diocesan Seminary of Parramatta, Holy Spirit. The wonderful hospitality, especially the Latin American infusion was most appreciated (especially the Paella). Despite the fun, the brothers were all off to bed early to prepare for the next day and the games that were to come.
Saturday morning started off slow for the team, after a Macca’s breakfast we had a bye first up. This time was not wasted, however, as the Rector gave the team a blessing. Rector, Fr Denis Stanley, invoked the same petition as the coach of the Croatian team at Medjugorje before the World Cup Final, that there will be no injuries, and there may unity within the team. A beautiful prayer, and the injuries were only slight.
First up, after some strategising from Deacon Hiep Nguyen the team faced Good Shepherd Seminary Sydney. There was from the outset an unwavering determination to win the first game, setting the team up for the rest of the tournament. Corpus Christi of course, managed to win this first game, thanks to a wonderful goal by our valiant striker Deacon Fidelis Udousoro.
Once the team had tasted victory there was no stopping them. In the second match a brilliant goal from Jean-Sebastian against the MGLs sent the boys through 2-1. This game was not without its casualties however, on both sides, with our goal keeper, Jude Johnson going down with an injured knee. We did see a beautiful expression of what the tournament is about however, in the concern by Br Cameron Smith MGL, who came running over to check on Jude. Brotherly fraternity extends past team boundaries.
In the third game the team faced cross border rivals Vianney College Seminary in Wagga Wagga. Despite some close calls and a wonderful performance by Tien Tran, the team couldn’t capitalise leading to a nil all draw. So, to was the score also against the home town favourites, the Neo-Cat’s in the second game. Even with all the noise from the bongo drums and tambourines, our boys weren’t fazed with the nil-all result.
After a fantastic barbeque lunch the team was back for two more games. With the ‘Body of Christ’ facing off against the ‘Holy Spirit’ for the next two games and the final (a theological conundrum if you will). First off the ranks was Paramatta where we experienced an outstanding performance by crowd favourite, Allan Aclan, who executed a glorious goal, assisted by Reverend Fidelis, sealing the match at 3-1. Despite it being a great win by the team, they were exhausted, with just 15 minutes between each game, their stamina was waning.
We were all well aware that the team was into the final at this point, so the players needed resting. Facing off then with Holy Spirit Seminary Queensland, who had been playing well all day, the team went on recruitment drive. Everyone was in; a guest performance by An Le really excited the team. This game was fierce, with the rookie list really trying to show their skills. The Ballarat Diocese duo of Matthew Restall and Peter Cay really showed their skills. The game was lost 2-1. There was a silver lining however and that was that we would be playing Holy Spirit once more in the final. This time with the team rested it would be ferocious.
Excitable synonyms can’t really express the determination of the team heading into the final. They were playing not merely for their own sake; but for all their brothers at the seminary and the Church of Melbourne at large. First however, the team needed to pray and gives thanks to God for the great opportunity afforded to them. Fr. Rector gave the team a blessing, and they entered the gates. Both teams were visibly tired coming into the match, but as soon as they entered that pitch, it turned into France vs Croatia. Play was fast paced and the players cool calm and collected. After a number of injuries and a Yellow Card coming into half time there was still no score. Some of the team was getting nervous about a penalty shootout.
It was the stirring words of Captain Confidence and the Rector in the half-time break that really motivated the team and inspired them into the second half. Coming into the second half the heckling from the New South Wales teams increased, but so did the teams determination; and finally, more than five minutes in, the biggest goal scorer of the competition, Hobart Archdiocese’s finest, Rev. Fidelis scored an overhead goal and sealed the victory. At this point everyone was counting down the clock, despite a few brilliant saves from our goal keeper Tuan Ho in the final minutes, the team hung on for the win. For the first time ever, Corpus Christi College had won the Inter-seminary soccer competition.
Although it was wonderful seeing our brothers holding the trophy at the end of tournament, it was the brotherhood that was the really rewarding and nurturing aspect of the whole experience. Seminarians had come from all around Australia, not just to play soccer, but to play with their brothers in Christ, and to give glory to the Most Holy Trinity in both the celebration of the Holy Mass, and in the liturgy of life played out over the weekend; living and loving in charity, inspired by the Spirit, and illumined by the light of Christ.
Thank you to all who participated in the day, and all those who supported us both in presence and in prayer; especially also to Fr Dennis Stanley and Fr Cameron Forbes who attended the day, as well as our captain Confidence Masvosva. Thanks also to his Most Episcopal Lordship Anthony Randazzo, Father Eric Skruzny, staff and students of both Redemptoris Mater and Holy Spirit Seminary Paramatta, and to all who helped organise the event. Finally, and most importantly all thanks and praise must go to Almighty God who has inspired in us a call to his Holy Priesthood. May he continue to inspire more men to Sacred Ministry and use them as instruments of his Love.
Article written by William Lowry, third-year seminarian of the Ballarat Diocese.
Slideshow pictures below.