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Church News

Football's coming home: Church of England to launch clergy team

by Marcus Jones

The Church of England is launching its very own football team to compete in various tournaments and games against different denominations and religions.

The idea was put forward to the Archbishop's Council last year by Rev Pouya Heidari who himself is a former professional footballer.

He'll now captain the team.

Pouya said: "Football was always a passion of mine and throughout my training for ordination I have been thinking how this journey of discipleship grows different bits of your life and for many people sports, and especially football, is one of the big ones.

"Part of my proposal to the Archbishops Council was that we would like to have both men and women's football teams. So far we have a full men's squad made of 18 vicars drawn from across the country and we are well on the way to building the women's squad also. Clearly all involved are passionate about football and how it can be used for outreach into their various communities - it's all very exciting.

"Our immediate focus is playing in friendlies and tournaments in this country against teams from different faith of groups, religious communities and secular clubs, not just Christian teams. Some of them may be semi-professional or even professional. Currently, we are scheduled to play in the National Christian football festival that is happening in Wales in July 2020. We are also exploring tournaments further afield with the Catholics in Rome and with the Lutherans in Germany but we will have to see what happens. For now, we are really excited about where this is going to take us."

Former Sunderland footballer Maurice Hepworth will coach the team.

The launch of the team comes after the Church of England competed against the Vatican in a cricket match.

The Vatican also launched an Athletics Club earlier this year to compete in international events.

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