Friday, 20 March 2015

We are not a 'Nation of the Cross'

Article by His Grace Bishop Angaelos
General Bishop of the Coptic Orthodox Church
in the United Kingdom

This week we celebrate the Feast of the Cross, remembering the ultimate sacrifice of our Lord Jesus Christ for all humanity. The Cross is a symbol that best exemplifies the paradox of Christianity as it demonstrates strength in apparent weakness and victory in apparent defeat. As Christians, we are therefore called to imitate the selflessness and humility demonstrated on the Cross by our Lord Jesus Christ, not only for our own sake but for the benefit of all those we encounter. 

Following from this, what has caused me great concern is the recent use of the phrase ‘I am of the Nation of the Cross’ on social media, in response to the brutal murder of 21 Coptic Christians in Libya. While many are innocently using this terminology to identify with the bravery and sacrifice of these men, as Christians it is essential that we understand that there is no room for the concept of ‘a nation of the Cross’ within Christianity as our nation is not of this world “for here we have no continuing city, but we seek the one to come” (Hebrews 13:14).

In the video that shows the martyrdom of these faithful men, one that I personally could not watch in its entirety due to the sheer brutality and degradation of humanity presented, the perpetrators of this heinous crime claimed to carry it out as a way of sending a message to the ‘people and nation of the cross.' While it is understandable that many are responding to this in an act of defiance and solidarity by using the Cross as a profile on social media, association with the concept of the ‘nation of the Cross’ is in actual fact problematic, and even detrimental. We do of course associate ourselves with the Cross as it is central to who we are, as demonstrated in the words of Saint Paul “God forbid that [we] should boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus” (Galatians 6:14), but the concept of ‘nation of the cross’ bears many negative implications and is contrary to Christian teaching and understanding.

As Christians, we have everlasting life and the kingdom of God as our concept of nation, as our desire and our goal. We must therefore not use terminology superimposed onto us as our identity because it implies that as a ‘nation of the Cross’ we separate ourselves from the rest of humanity. As Christians, we are gathered as the Body of Christ, but do not see ourselves as separate from the rest of humanity; on the contrary, are called to be in the world as ambassadors and stewards “You are the light of the world…Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven. (Matthew 5:14-16).

To "take up our Cross and follow Christ" (Luke 9:23) is different to declaring ourselves a nation with the Cross as its flag. The Cross was never meant to be a symbol of triumphalism but rather, one of sacrifice and humility, which we as the Body of Christ must emulate “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me” (Luke 9:23).

The implication of this divisive terminology is that we as a ‘nation’ of Christians are at war and at enmity with the ‘nation (Uma) of Islam’, which is of course not the case, and we must not be coerced into a state of enmity; as Christians we have no enemies as we are called to love all equally “…love your neighbour as yourself" (Matthew 22:39). Even if others consider themselves our enemies and chose to ‘spitefully use and persecute [us]’ (Matthew 5:44), we are called to love and forgive even to the end, which has been demonstrated clearly in the response to the execution of these 21 martyrs in Libya as well as in many other similar instances in the past and contemporary history of Christianity.

For this reason, we must not naively adopt an identity or be guided by a philosophy forced upon us and not our own, because it is based on a skewed understanding of Christianity and what the Cross represents. We must always remember that in Christian teaching, the Cross is only a step along a journey which finds its fullness in the Resurrection and so our focus on the Cross can never be in isolation from our hope and joy in the Resurrection. 

As Christians, we are called to set ourselves apart in terms of conduct, and to live faithfully, selflessly and with humility, seeking the power of the Resurrection as demonstrated by these 21 courageous men in Libya, remembering that while we "glory in the cross," (Galatians 6:14) "we have been united together in the likeness of His death, [and] certainly we also shall be in the likeness of His resurrection” (Romans 6:5).

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Friday, 3 October 2014

Coptic Orthodox Football Tournament Association (COFTA) 2014 - Article by Samuel Michail

We were all missing a bit of COFTA in our lives. With no tournament in 2013, it had been too long. So we all strapped on the shin-pads, tied up our boots, and got going on the 10th annual Coptic Orthodox Football tournament. Golders Green and the hosts, Stevenage, joined the holders and pre-tournament favourites, Brighton, in Group A. The 2012 runners-up, Croydon found themselves in what appeared a challenging group B with our friends from the north, Nottingham and Rotherham.

And so we began. Despite the fact that we were awoken at 5:00am on Saturday morning to the sounds of a thunderstorm, we didn’t allow that to rain on our parade as we marched out onto the oh so familiar pitches in Shephalbury Park.

The opening game in group A was a tentative affair with neither Golders Green nor Brighton able to find the breakthrough, and it ended a goalless draw, a result which should’ve been repeated when Golders faced Stevenage, but for a Golders goal which the Croydon linesman deemed to have crossed the line. Despite numerous onlookers, the players AND the ref believing it hadn’t, he was adamant it did and the game ended 1-0. No, I’m not bitter at all. When Brighton faced Stevenage, the St George boys defended like warriors and for all Brighton’s attacking flair, they just couldn’t find a way through our resolute defence, until a penalty was awarded for a handball that wasn’t, and it was coolly slotted home. Stevenage found themselves in the familiar position of “If we win our next two games by large margins we can still go through”, as we walked into lunch.

Unfortunately, my knowledge of group B’s game isn’t as in depth as it should be as I was so indulged in the events of my team and my group. However, the highlights include an inspired fight back from Nottingham against Croydon, rescuing a point after being 2-0 down thanks to two headers from their striker Nduoma Chilaki, and an Amir Ameen hat-trick giving Rotherham the three points they needed. Going into lunch, it was clear that group B would have a much tighter finish then that of group A.

We hobbled back onto the pitches, our muscles aching and our stomach’s filled with spaghetti bolognaise, determined to find out who will compete in Sundays semi-finals. Group A resumed very similar to how it started, with a close match between the holders and Golders, ending 1-0 to Brighton. This flung the group wide open but as soon as Golders defeated Stevenage 2-0, we had lost all hope of qualifying and the final game between Brighton and Stevenage ended up being a chance to rest those in need of rest and give the whole squad a run out.

Group B was much tighter as expected. Croydon found their form thanks to some inspired team talks from John Halaka and Anthony Daniel, to beat the Nottingham boys, this time managing to hold onto their lead. Nottingham then beat Rotherham, so it was down to the final game. Croydon v Rotherham. The winner joins Nottingham in the semi final. A draw suited Croydon. It was beautifully poised for a thrilling finish. Rotherham take the lead. Half time. Anthony tells his boys, ‘get me the ball, I will make something happen’. Amir Ameen takes on responsibility of man-marking Anthony. Dying moments, Amir looses his man, Anthony is free, and he scores! The Croydon fans erupt, Rotherham heartbroken. Croydon see the game out at 1-1 and they’ve done it! (Sorry for picking on you there Amir)

And so, the day was almost over. We hobbled back into the cathedral to end the day in the unity of prayer as we prayed Vespers together. The topic of the Vespers sermon by HG Bishop Angaelos was about fellowship and our responsibility to encourage and support one another not just on the football pitch, but spiritually as well.

Sunday would offer us the chance to see a repeat of the 2012 final. Brighton v Croydon on first and they would play the winner of Golders Green v Nottingham in the final. The day started on a lovely note as we were joined by Bishop Moussa to pray the mass with us. Following that, rooms were tidied, brunch was taken and then everyone got into game mode. Brighton opened the scoring, with Mina ‘Deutch’ Muharib bagging his fourth of the campaign. Croydon went for it, they had to, they threw the kitchen sink at it. However, inevitably with them pushing on so hard, gaps were created and Brighton took full advantage as they grabbed the goal that sent them to the final on the break. Another deep and inspiring team talk delivered by John and they promised to be back even stronger next year.

Semi-final number 2 saw Golders Green start at a rapid pace as they took a quick 2-goal lead, which should’ve been extended even more. However, as the Nottingham team has already shown us this tournament, they are not ones to give up and feel sorry for themselves. Captain Mark Khalil rallied the troupes as they gave it everything against the tiring Golders boys and they pulled level before the final whistle went. The nerving affair of a penalty shootout to come. Nottingham scored all their penalties, they had ice running through their veins, but regrettably the Golders boys couldn’t do the same and they were knocked out. Hani Mohib, the Golders coach, lamented the fact they couldn’t hold on to a 2-0 lead, but also exclaimed just how proud he was of his boys and what a fantastic job they’ve done. I second that, Hani.

And now onto the COFTA 2014 Final. The atmosphere was filled with a mixture of tension, excitement and nerves. Nottingham found themselves in the lead when the tournaments top-scorer, Nduoma, ‘scored’ a simply stunning bending and curling free-kick. He ended the tournament with 5 goals, the free-kick deemed to have gone in of the keepers heel, so awarded as an own-goal. However, Brighton fought back and levelled the scoring, but when Nottingham scored again, Brighton had to summon every last ounce of energy to hold on to their trophy, which has found home with them for the last 4 years. Lead by the incredible, player of the tournament, Ashley Brown they produced wave after wave of attacks, but David Morgan was an absolute rock in defence. The few times they did manage to get behind him, the captain, and winner of the golden glove award, Mark Khalil pulled of some simply outstanding saves. The final whistle blew and the celebrations began! Everyone joined in the group bundle, including the Nottingham priest. Thrilling scenes. Nottingham lifted the famous cup as the Brighton boys looked on, vowing to come back stronger next year, with captain Mikael stating that training will go up to three times a week! Congratulations to Nottingham and well done Brighton for playing your part in what was a thrilling final. 

I personally can’t wait till COFTA 2015. I would like to thank everyone who made this tournament so successful, from the kitchen staff, to the fans, to the players to the priests and bishops and to all the captains, coaches and managers. See you all next September!

                                                                                                                                                      Samuel Michail

Thursday, 28 August 2014

Revive 2014 - Hidden Treasures

"You therefore, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus. And the things that you have heard from me among many witnesses, commit these to faithful men who will be able to teach others also. You therefore must endure hardship as a good soldier of Jesus Christ." 2 Timothy 2:1-3

Revive 2014 ‘Hidden Treasures’ (22-24 August) was yet again another unforgettable and epic weekend of fellowship and joy! With youth aged 14-21 split up into four age-specific groups, the ‘traditions’ and ‘Traditions’ of the Coptic Orthodox Church were unpacked and explored, and the theme sought to reveal the beauty of Orthodoxy, the Church  and its heritage. His Grace Bishop Angaelos spoke to us about the Church being a means to an end, not an end in itself. He spoke of the Church as a vehicle for us all to become, and guide one another closer to God in our words, actions and lifestyle.  There was a variety of things for people of all ages to engage with, including a variety of sessions, vespers, Tasbeha, contemporary worship, and of course the Liturgy on Sunday morning. The activities were also great fun, with obstacle courses, basketball, volleyball, and the beloved bonfire on Saturday night. All in all it was a wonderful experience, but you do not need to take our word for it; read below to hear what a couple of youth have to say about Revive2014, and we hope to see you next year!

Veronica Amin, from Saint Mary and Saint Shenouda
I would like to take a minute to say thank you to Sayedna, all the servants, especially Sally Tadross and Mina Badawi, and everyone who came to Revive 2014 for making it such an enjoyable weekend, with beneficial talks, fun activities and the opportunity to make lovely friends! I came away from this weekend spiritually and personally nourished due to the talks that were led by the committed servants who tried their very best to help our every need throughout the entire weekend. For me I found the talks to be spiritually beneficial because they increased my knowledge of the traditions and culture of the Coptic Orthodox Faith. The activities were a means to make new friends and have loads of fun with old ones, and they were very well organised with lots of creative games that even the rain couldn't ruin! I would personally like to thank my strand servants; Shanuda Abadeir, Mina Mansor, Mina Arsanious and Kiroulus Abadir for the fun, interesting sessions and for helping us all grow spiritually over the weekend.

Marina Facouri from Saint Mark’s Church, London
Starting off the conference was great as we were reunited with friends who we haven't seen for over 2 years. Sayedna started off the conference with an introduction about tradition and how there are 2 types of tradition, "T" and "t" tradition. The "t" can be changed or adapted according to the time, era and place that you are in, however the "T" tradition cannot change. There are 3 traditions which cannot change, 1) Theology 2) Faith 3) Dogma.

We learned that over time, we have adapted the language which we use during the liturgy depending upon the era and place we are in, however this does not mean we forget about Coptic, it means we build up on what we have, thus building up the Church together. He then explained how the word "Orthodox" means straight, which goes back to Saint Mark who received the message directly from our Lord Jesus and passed it to us, giving us a direct link to our Lord. He concluded saying that we should not pick and choose what we want from God, like we do in a supermarket, but that we should just embrace the whole treasure that we have been given.

Amir Michaeel then gave us our first talk based upon praise and how our Church is always praising God. He showed us that the Holy Bible, depending on the translation, says "praise" 250 times (150 of those are said by David in the psalms). He then explained that if we are praising without understanding then we are missing out on the treasure; but if we understand the praise then we become more engaged in Church and will not be bored.

Abouna Shenouda then gave the 2nd talk about the treasures found in the Liturgy. He explained that if we do not know the value of what we have, we don't realise that we have a treasure. For the treasure to be of value, it must be shown and not hidden. The word " Liturgy" in Greek means "Work of People" , so we should all work together in order to show people our treasures.  He then further explained that the Liturgy prepares us and sanctifies us in order to be ready for Holy Communion. If we only arrive in time for Holy Communion, then it is pointless; if we learn to value the Holy Liturgy and attend it, then we are sanctified and prepared for Christ to enter into our hearts, and thus in the future we will be able to pass on the right message to the next generation.

In our 3rd session, Adam Wahba spoke to us about why we follow traditions in Church. He explained that there are 3 reasons, which are :
1) We are in fellowship in one Body(Kononia), the Body of Jesus Christ.
2) We have a strong foundation to build on.
3) Living traditions daily draw us close to God, and Him to us.

He also spoke about icons, fasting and candles in the Church. He clarified in the end that these traditions are all Biblical, although some may not be written as clearly or directly as others, but still in the Bible. Sayedna wrapped up the conference by saying that the Church is a means to an end; to be gathered together to reach God's kingdom. To reach God's kingdom we must do it all with ONE mind and ONE accord.

The conference was full of fellowship, and it was a great idea to split into age groups rather than churches, in order to allow us to bond with people of the same age from all the churches. The activities were great and a wide range of activities were available to all. Team leaders were very friendly and supportive and were constantly giving out sweets throughout the conference which I believe many people enjoyed! The leaders of the conference came up with great ideas to keep us entertained and the theme overall was excellent and definitely needed to be covered. The barbecue was also amazing and delicious!
Overall, Revive2014 was great, as was the environment and the people serving. I would definitely recommend this conference to others in the future as people benefit from it spiritually and socially as well. 

To summarise the conference in one word, I would say it was treasurastic! :)Thank you and God bless.

More photographs from Revive 2014 can be found via the CopticYouth-uk Facebook group.

For more information on Coptic Youth Mission visit @CopticYouthUK

Monday, 31 March 2014

The Coptic Orthodox British Elite Basketball Association Tournament (Cobeba) 2014

The Coptic Orthodox British Elite Basketball Association Tournament (Cobeba) 2014 was one to remember, with a team from Manchester entering the tournament for the first time and becoming this year’s Cobeba Champions! They took the title by beating the defending champions, the Newcastle Phoenix’.
This year we saw teams from Saint Mary and Anba Abram, Brighton (The Brighton Ballers), ‘The Gentlemen from Manchester’ a name given to the team by His Grace Bishop Angaelos; Saint George and Saint Athanasius , (The Newcastle Phoenix), Saint Mary and Archangel Michael (Golders Green Heat) and of course the home team, the Saint George Knights from Stevenage.

With exhilarating games on the first day, followed by a vespers service attended by all, it proved to be a great display of fellowship and sportsmanship, with the referees and their family members commenting on the cheerful and friendly atmosphere and respect shown by all the players and fans.

Sunday began with a Eucharistic liturgy followed by breakfast and the semi-finals between the Saint George Knights and ‘The gentlemen from Manchester’ (we won’t mention the score) but we will say that the first five points were scored by Saint George, so thank you to the Knights for taking the bullet!

The final between the Newcastle Phoenix and Gentlemen from Manchester was nail-bitingly tight and it looked as if Newcastle were going to reclaim their title once again. Halfway through the match however, Manchester seemed to gain a new burst of energy, and regained their focus and determination, going on to win the match with a final score of 68-48.

It goes without saying that the quality of basketball this year was incredible. (It may be worth mentioning that the two teams in the final were made up predominantly of Canadians who live and breathe the sport!)

Last but by no means least, a big thank you goes to His Grace Bishop Angaelos for dedication in supporting all the teams from the side-lines, and for having the courage to hug the boys after their matches! Thank you to the wonderful Mark Galtta who made it all happen and to the dedicated Lydia Guirguis who worked tirelessly behind the scene to ensure everything was running smoothly. Thank you also to everyone else who helped serve in the kitchen and with cleaning, and to all the fans and players for taking part and making Cobeba 2014 an incredible display of fellowship and Christian witness in the UK.
We look forward to seeing you next year!

Wednesday, 21 August 2013

Revive 2013

 Well, it has come and gone again, but not without a lasting impact on everyone who attended or served at Revive 2013!

The theme this year was ‘Shine’ inspired by Matthew 5:16 where our Lord instructs us all to “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.”

With an unprecedented number of people in attendance this year, well over 200, the Coptic Centre UK was filled with lively and dynamic youth in search of spiritual nourishment, fruitful fellowship and exciting activities. His Grace Bishop Angaelos, our beloved host, said of this year’s Revive:

“It was lovely to see our youth actively engaging in the spiritual talks and benefitting from the words of His Grace Bishop Youssef, who journeyed across the world to give us all the benefit of His insight and knowledge. I am so pleased to see the high turnout this year, because it is in coming together that we can truly experience the power of the Holy Spirit that works in us all to shine to those closest to us, and then to all who we encounter. Thank you to all the faithful servants who contributed to this year’s Revive, and to all those who attended; may we continue to let the light of God within us shine.”

Let’s hear what some of the youth had to say about Revive 2013:

‘I learnt how to build a better relationship with God in order to shine! My favourite activity was the bouncy castle. A very hectic, yet unusually calm experience.’ - Alexander Malhar, Strand 14-15

 ‘I think the spiritual content of the talks were really good because I got more about how we can shine in other people’s lives. Also, it was presented really well, not only by talks but by a video clip which made it more interesting. Activities were good; I went on the bouncy castle and also took part in the indoor activities. I met loads of new people by participating in these activities. The atmosphere was amazing! Everybody was positive, especially at the bonfire when everyone was singing – it was brilliant! The praise and worship was also amazing, because there was a positive vibe in the atmosphere which makes you feel so close to God in the moment! And not to mention, the food was brilliant!’ - Yustina Zan, Strand 16-17

‘The talks were really good. Anba Youseff’s lectures were really interesting, length and subject was very appropriate. The analogy used with the earth, moon and sun was very helpful as it helped explain the concept of ‘shine’ really well. Mary’s talk was also very good, she was really interactive and I felt I learnt a lot during this conference. There needed to be more interactive group activities, not just football and treasure hunt, also, two years ago we had a talent show/ church presentations which were a lot of fun and helped bring people together. I also think there were too many young people this year. Maybe split it up into two conferences? I liked the talks the most as I really benefitted from them. ’-  Eustina Hanna, Strand 18-19
 ‘Anba Youseff’s talks I found beneficial as the advice applied to my daily life. E.g. prayer distractions and when attending weddings how to come together for the bride and groom while evangelising. I enjoyed the bouncy castle/football/smaller games in the main hall/bonfire. It was chaotic, but timing was spot on. Organisation for the workshop I was in was difficult due to large numbers, the food was great. Personally, I appreciated getting to know girls and boys from my church on a better level and other kids from different churches. Also, tasbeha was amazing, and the overall atmosphere with both the Sayedna’s presence was great with their laid back and friendly attitudes.’ - Julie Kheir, Servant

 ‘Anba Youssef’s talk was really good, I benefitted a lot, I wish he gave us more talks. There were good activities but there needs to be more for the kids. Overall it was a great atmosphere, I loved seeing friends from different churches.’ Mina Hanna, Servant


Wednesday, 17 October 2012

YCYC - Run the Race 2012

The 10th Anniversary of YCYC
Run the Race 2012
‘I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race,
I have kept the faith.’ 2 Timothy 4:7

Picture this… 130 children aged 10-13 from all across the UK, gathering together for healthy fellowship over the course of a weekend. What does that bring to mind? …Noise! And lots of it. But there’s no doubt that the 10th anniversary of the Young Coptic Youth Conference (YCYC) at The Coptic Orthodox Church Centre was one to remember, filled with spiritual nourishment, Koinonia and sheer joy. But don’t take our word for it, Angela from St Mary and St Abu Sufein church in Wales, who attended the conference, had a thing or two to share about her experience.

The theme Run the Race 2012 was a great idea, I loved the fact it was relevant to the Olympics, and I found all the talks really interesting. I would have liked one more talk to be honest, so maybe next year we can have more.

I felt welcomed on the first day even though I was late and could only attend the workshop. People were really interactive during the talks, but not all of us responded immediately to the adults when asked to do things. All the servants were welcoming and made everything interesting.

There were great activities such as the bungee run, bouncy castle, and jenga etc. I think next year it would be nice if we had less time though for activities and more spiritual time. I loved the songs, I wish there were more, but the ones that were sung were beautiful. I really enjoyed the song ‘Happy Face’ sung by one of the servants.

The t-shirts we were given had an amazing design compared to last year, and there were loads more gifts, I really enjoyed the sweets and bracelets. The food this year was also very very nice and most people thought it was great. I personally loved the sausages for breakfast, and the lasagne and barbequed chicken.

I really enjoyed Vespers and the Liturgy especially was very nice and organised.
Overall, the conference was very fun and had a lot of activities as well helping us learn more about spiritual life.

Article by Angela from St Mary and St Abu Sufein church in Wales.

A big thank you to all the servants who made Run the Race 2012 a conference to remember, and it goes without saying that without HG Bishop Angaelos none of this would be possible, so thank you Sayedna for the vision and for your constant faithful service. See you at YCYC 2013!

Thursday, 4 October 2012

COFTA: Coptic Orthodox Football Tries Again

“Most football teams are temperamental. That's 90% temper and 10% mental.”

We patiently waited for summer to end and autumn to dawn upon us. June... July...  August...  September... That’s right. It was time to separate the fine from the foul, the slackers from the slick and the fat from the fit. Before September closed its curtains on us for yet another year, it went out with a bang: COFTA 2012.

This year saw the absence of the Rotherham boys as they were preoccupied celebrating a wedding in the only way they know how – “three days in the monastery post-ceremony”. . . Sure. As finalists for the previous two years, the draw was thrown wide open. The North was not to be forgotten though as Nottingham made their return to the elite scene after several years out.

The day started off late, as usual, with the traditional prayers and photo after the gate was disassembled by the custodian of the spanner himself: Uncle Rafat. With the first two group games getting underway, comfortable victories came to the holders, Brighton, and to Croydon. As St George FC took to the pitch against Nottingham, one thing became clear. Up north, “Football is like nuclear warfare. There are no winners, only survivors.” This proved true as both teams were held to a draw on both occasions and all we had to show for it was battle scars likened to those on the frontline (pictures available upon request). Lucky Elia missed it all as he prioritised his MOT above his football. BUT GOOD NEWS PEOPLE! He passed! Needless to say avoid the roads.

Right before we called half-time on the day, a St George FC player, who shall remain Amonyous...I mean anonymous, decided that 3-0 down in the second half it would be wise to play Maradona in his own net. The referee kindly gave the goal to spare him further blushes (which Brighton would inflict later that day).

Lunch time was upon us. Forget half-time oranges; burgers and chips were the highly nutritional snack of the day with the only veg in sight that of ketchup. Enough said. Clearly Jamie Oliver’s healthy eating campaign had yet to hit the Coptic Community within England. Chief Galtta’s touch was truly missed.

You may be wondering where St Mark’s feature in the picture. They packed their bags and made their way home after the first day of action following retirement from the game of big names such as ex-captain “The Ramon Risk” himself. But St George FC were determined not to go out without leaving their mark on the tournament (as Nottingham had on my leg). And they did just that. 11-1 losers to Brighton in what was the greatest ever defeat in COFTA history. With players putting in transfer requests in left right and centre, rumour had it that COFTA team’s players would hereby be decided by geographical location... Couldn’t agree more. I’m on my way to Brighton as we speak and the whole Brighton team is being deported back to Germany and France.

And so it was, St George FC bowed out at the group stage: “We can't run. We can't pass. We can't stop the run. We can't stop the pass. We can't kick. Other than that, we’re just not a very good football team right now.” Nottingham too made history being the first team to reach the semis without recording a single victory.

Day Two saw Croydon meet Brighton in the final which saw, ex-St George player, and now almost amateur referee, G. Farah do a much better job than some of the other refs across the weekend *COUGH-Fady Malik-COUGH*. Clearly underdogs, Croydon took the lead with an emphatic strike by Meerky-cat which sent their fans and crippled Egyptian punter Michael Tadros into euphoria. Vin Diesel soon after silenced the masses and sent Fr Yohanna in the clouds, a familiar place for the Man of Cloth, with a great penalty (Michael Shenouda, take notes). Soon after, COFTA’s first broken bone when Brighton’s Shady snapped his collar bone in two and had to be lured off the pitch as he insisted he was fit to play... There was some truly remarkable football played by both teams.

The final continued into the darkness and when extra-time couldn’t separate the teams it went down to penalties. At this stage, the Sports Correspondent had to make his way home and missed the shootout. He did hear however that it was an enthralling encounter that ended with the Brighton keeper almost losing his life in the post-match celebration.

Either way, there was one team that really shone out from the rest in their spirit of love, peace and graciousness. Furthermore, they played some of the highest quality football COFTA has ever seen. Their two training sessions a week had paid dividends and Brighton became the first team to win COFTA three years on the trot.

Brighton, next year save yourself the journey and the hassle. Keep the trophy and we’ll call it quits ;)

COFTA Secretary & Sports correspondent
J. Shenouda
Coptic Media Group and Coptic Youth Mission take no responsibility for the opinions of their correspondents. Complaints should be made directly to the Leveson Inquiry or the correspondent (without violence of course).