I have already had the chance to explore how football can somehow be a reflection of the life we lead (The three Ps). This time I would like to take the argument even further: what can the Church learn from football?
Football is about winning titles, but that is simply the end result. Especially for younger players, learning to play with the ball is becoming more important than winning. It is about educating players, and winning takes care of itself.
Developing in a calm and proper environment, players are not judged on winning games all the time. Time is greater than space. For younger players football is more about the journey than it is about the destination; it is about having an attitude more than having a place, and it is about building relationships more than building institutions.
The Church can follow suit by thinking not in terms of existing institutions and models but in terms of what, why and how she does all that she does. Otherwise, the Church will always be sewing, as in Mark 2, 21, “a piece of unshrunken cloth on an old cloak.”
When reading the signs of the time and aligning visions accordingly and together, because the whole is greater than the parts, one can act decisively. Football can therefore teach the Church to use systems not in and of themselves but to create an environment in which people can come together to seek possibilities. Unity, after all, prevails over conflict.
Such an environment caters for formation and support because “horizons” (in Charles Taylor’s understanding) and combined efforts, when means to an end and not an end in themselves, are not the enemy of inventiveness. Rooted in prayer, this can become an exercise in creativity rather than reactivity.
When retrieving the whats of our time and the whys of our endeavours, then answering the hows becomes an informed and a collective exercise of creativity. There is no greater win than seeking to contextualise and to live out the joy of the Gospel.