A portrait of Pope Francis as a sports fan
October 14, 2014 8:52pm
Amid all the debris left by typhoon Yolanda in its wake, media members covering the devastation zeroed in on a remarkable scene in Tacloban: local men propping up a basketball hoop they had found in the ruins to play a quick pickup game.
Months later, more basketball courts have been erected from the rubble for children and teenagers to play basketball.
When Pope Francis visits the tragedy-stricken areas of Tacloban and Palo, Leyte in January, the Pontiff will probably be able relate to the Filipino's undying passion for sports.
The Pope is a huge sports fan himself. He is known to be a football fanatic, and also reportedly played basketball in his younger years.
He is a card-carrying fan San Lorenzo, a local Argentine club that he has supported since he was a child. As a member of the club, he still pays his association dues on time, even after he became Pope.
The affection is far from a one-way street. The club recently won the Copa Libertadores, the most prestigious football cup in South America. After bagging the trophy, members of the team flew to the Vatican to show the cup to their most popular fan.
Pope Francis was also presented a red-and-blue San Lorenzo jersey and a replica of the trophy when the team paid a visit after winning Argentina's top division last December.
In August last year, Argentina and Italy also played a friendly match in tribute to the new Pope. The players, led by Argentine superstar Lionel Messi, gave Pope Francis autographed jerseys and a signed football.
The Pope has also welcomed basketball personalities to the Vatican. Last year, he received a basketball jersey from the NBA's Boston Celtics, through the club's minority owner Jim Pallotta. Pope Francis received a white Celtics Jersey No. 1, with "The Pope" inscribed on the back. — JST, GMA News

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