Thursday, 19 July 2012

EuroCOFTA 2012

A wise man once said “football is more than a sport or a mere activity, it is a means of unifying individuals; provoking emotion in all people, irrespective of age, race or gender, and that is why it is considered a universal language.”

That wise man, is me. The above is an accurate description of what I witnessed over the weekend of 13-15 July 2012 where The Coptic Centre hosted the 2nd Euro COFTA.

England, France, Holland, Germany, Italy, Sweden and Switzerland; 7 teams coming together to compete for the most desired title in Church football, whilst representing their churches and countries.

A couple of teams arrived before the weekend and international friendships were already being formed. By Friday all teams had arrived with their fans, coaches and high spirits as they prepared to showcase their talents. The Coptic Centre felt like an EU summit!

As the games kicked off under the infamous English rain, fans persisted in cheering for their countries and the teams did not fail to deliver highly entertaining matches, whether with high scores or tight games. The day was full of thrilling football and provided excitement, laughter and frustration as both groups played for the top 2 spots in their respective groups.

A delicious BBQ and candy-floss as well as outdoor activities ensured that everyone had much to enjoy alongside the football. In the evening, His Grace Bishop Angaelos gave a bible study after a highly energetic vespers where the teams came together for prayer and to share the word of God.

The liturgy was an amazing experience, multilingual but united in spirit, heart and prayer. It was a real testament to the ministry of the Coptic Church and how, with its expansion into all parts of the earth, she still maintains common foundations upon which her children can come together and worship in unity.

During the knockouts, England failed to defend its title, and lost to last year’s runners up, France, with the heart-ache of an own goal. In the other semi-final, tournament debutants Sweden beat the Swiss in an exciting game. In the thrilling final, France and Sweden were battling each other as well as exhaustion, yet the Swedes managed to edge past the French to claim their first Euro COFTA cup.

What was evident more than anything was that despite having 7 teams playing football, there were more teams elsewhere: in the kitchen, at the BBQ, arranging accommodation, activities and transport. The spirit of unity and fellowship displayed over the weekend really made me proud of our youth. May God continue to bless this wonderful ministry.

By Amir Michaeel