Summer soccer camps put faith into action
By Conor Gilliland
Summer soccer camps put faith into action

.- An organization will integrate faith and sport through two high-level soccer camps this summer.

“No pain, no gain. No cross, no crown,” explained founder and head coach of Catholic Soccer Camps Antonio Soave.

Great athletes and great saints share something in common, the head coach told CNA. Catholic Soccer Camps’ professional coaches and role models coupled with intensive spirituality aim to enliven that connection in the young participants – showing them that they can be great athletes and devout Catholics.

The week-long camps will be hosted in Green Bay, Wisconsin and Kansas City, Missouri for youth aged 7-17.

“When a player is on the soccer field, you are asking them to be a warrior. But you can use the same skill-set to be a warrior for Christ,” asserted Soave. That skill-set includes hard work, diligence, and perseverance.

“It doesn’t always feel good to be faithful, and it’s the same with sports. It requires diligence. It requires a choice, even when you don’t feel like doing it.” This, says Soave, is a manifestation of faith in action.

If your body is a temple for the Holy Spirit, then training your body virtuously and competing virtuously is significant, said the founder of Catholic Soccer Camps. Role models who embody this virtue of faith in action are important for showing young people that, “you can utilize your body to glorify the Lord.”

The coaches and role models for the camp are firm in their faith and accomplished soccer veterans.

Soave, himself a former high-school all-American and NCAA division I player, is bringing in two devout Catholics and professional coaches from Italy – Massimo Carli and Luigi Dusatti.

Soave founded the camp four years ago when he was the head coach of Franciscan University of Steubenville’s varsity soccer team. He saw how devout his players were in their faith and how strong their soccer skills were on the field. He said he wanted to “export” that possibility to more people.

“I was inspired by viewing the players and their commitment to prayer on the field. I thought it would be a good idea to broaden this concept – to show young people how you can be a great Catholic and a great athlete,” said Soave.

Soave also noted that Blessed John Paul II’s example is a motivating factor in his ministry to connect faith and sport.

“Pope John Paul II was an athlete; he played soccer and was a skier. He understood there is an interesting spiritual connection.”

Soave summarized the ethos of the camps as, “high level soccer, constant activity, and continuous prayer.”

Catholic Soccer Camps is collaborating with Varsity Catholics, a ministry of FOCUS, and Catholic Athletes for Christ who are providing several coaches and mentors for the camps.

Now in its fourth year, Catholic Soccer Camps is playing host to two sites for the first time. The inaugural year for the camp was held at Franciscan University where Soave was head coach.

This year, the camp in Green Bay will be held at St. Norbert College from July 11 through July 15. The camp in Kansas City will take place at Rockhurst University from July 11 to July 22.

For more information, visit:  www.catholicsoccercamps.com

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