COPA CATOLICA: Living faith through leisure activities

In order to progress today in faith with young people, it is necessary to join them in their leisure time, in their passions; and to be able, beyond leisure time, to take them out to offer them a new path that can help them to grow.
It is this magnificent road that the young people of Benin have been taking for some years in the company of Fondacio. This movement has begun a new partnership with the youth chaplaincy of the Archdiocese of Cotonou in the implementation of the COPA CATOLICA project "a competition that allows young people to have fun, but also to learn and listen to God in a different way.

After the success of the first ecumenical edition (in 2015 and 2016) between the Fondacio Movements and the YCS (Young Catholic Students) around the electoral events in Benin, (communal, legislative and presidential elections) the third edition of the pastoral games promises to be a great success with Fondacio and the youth movements of the dioceses of Benin. For the second edition (in 2017 and 2018) with the groups, movements and associations of the youth chaplaincy, the programme was deployed through a partnership between Fondacio and (8) eight Vicariates Forains of the Diocesan Youth Chaplaincy of Cotonou and the youth groups of the Diocese of Parakou. The special stamp of this last edition was the organization for the first time of the competition called COPA CATOLICA in Benin.

Indeed, in 2016, the Fondacio Movement in Benin decided to support the activities of the Youth Chaplaincy and initiated, during the WYD in Poland, to take 13 young people in charge in the youth groups affiliated to the General Coordination and Fondacio, in a pilgrimage for a unique experience in the Church with the Pope in Krakow. During these World Youth Days the international football competition called COPA CATOLICA was launched. A Christian label of cultural exchange with young people of more than 20 nationalities. Two young people from the Fondacio delegation had been selected to play in the Fondacio International team which, at the end of the competition, won second place against Italy. It was then, on returning from WYD, that the idea was born to integrate this experience into the Young Disciples Program in Benin. 


The objective of this competition is first of all to help young people to better know themselves in their richness, their potential but also their vulnerability. This program has been r


Young people need places where they are seen, recognized, loved, called and encouraged to build their identity and their future. They are in search of a harmonious life and a desire to participate in the renewal that society and the Church need. To achieve this, three projects were proposed over two years.

 

  1. Games - Sport: Youth in competition 
  2. Youth With A Mission: Missionary Outings and Inclusive Thematic Trainings
  3. Training: Faith - Commitment - Employment - Entrepreneurship


To make a new path to strengthen the faith of young people, to offer them ways to learn from their realities, to move forward in the game and to be Christians at the heart of the game through experiences of success and failure. 
COPA CATOLICA thus becomes a label that now has a positive impact on the evangelisation of the young people of the Archdiocese of Cotonou thanks to Football and the game Génius (Budding Genius on the knowledge of the Holy Scriptures).

Some young people at the end of the competitions testify about their journey 
Doris ABADASSI, herbogenist of the team of the vicariate-fair Saint Luke de Ouèdo: "COPA CATOLICA has succeeded in federating all the young people of our archdiocese around a common project: physical, sports and intellectual activities. We had even more fun with a strengthened team spirit and a healthy fair play. The competing teams were given equal opportunities". 

In the same discipline, Hyvicto SINKPON, a member of the team of the vicariate-funeral Saint Teresa of Godomey clearly shows the benefit of the tournament: "I was positively struck by the sense of companionship and fraternity promoted by the Copa Catolica. The competition allowed me to meet new friends. The relocation of the matches allowed me to discover the rural churches of our diocese. » 

If the Génius (Genius in the Bible) tournament received a favourable echo on Benin's Catholic radio, football has done more. 
Chadas WANNOU Football player of the Saint Anthony of Padua team: "I felt a real cohesion between the teams, certainly there were difficulties in recovering from failure, but it is fraternity that won. We are not only able to play but also ready to defend as a team."

Within the organizing committee, those in charge report a total satisfaction and Father Sabin SEDEGNON, assistant chaplain, exclaims: "We are living something great, something beautiful! We can no longer speak of the Gospel to young people without integrating their passions, the game, football. Youth is the game in effervescence, then within the game, the talents and potential young leaders are revealed".

Live faith differently through games and competition. The essential of what can be retained from this playful and pastorally committed experience for a rendezvous of the Gospel through practice. Everyone will have understood that the aim is not to win, nor to have individual performances. But it is above all to learn to win or lose together. Maintaining the course of fair play, promoting and educating oneself in non-violence: To peace by another way.

The organising committee rewarded all the young people who took part in the different competitions and encouraged the efforts made by COPA CATOLICA to be witnesses and brothers. We look forward to the next edition which is already coming up for 2020! 

Jérôme TOZE

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