Fired Up!

Young people from across Hampshire Downs, Three Rivers and Southampton came together in Winchester to celebrate Pentecost at a special event organised by Peter McGeady (Youth Development Leader) and Dave Hill (Diocesan Youth Adviser).

The day provided everyone with an opportunity to think about the Gifts of the Holy Spirit and take part in a choice of workshops and a special Youth Mass.

One of the main presentations looked at the importance of sport to CAFOD’s work in peace and development throughout the world – with a special reference to our partner St John’s Sports Society (SJSS).  SJSS works in Korogocho, just outside Nairobi. We looked at the television report of the Oaklands students’ visit there last year.

The people of Korogocho are not legally allowed to live on the land but there are not enough affordable houses in the city. Houses are made from mud and iron sheeting and there is little electricity or running water.  Many young people do not complete secondary school and classes are crowded.   Despite their intelligence and entrepreneurial spirit, it can be difficult for people living there to find a job.

In the midst of this St John’s Sports Society helps young people change their lives through sport.  We looked at how sport builds confidence, self belief, tolerance and team work.  SJSS also encourages its members (many of whom are on the Kenyan national sports teams) to play an active role in their community.

Events as huge as the Olympics remind us that we’re all one massive global family but we also know we live in a world that is deeply divided.  Many tell us we can do nothing about this but the Holy Spirit gives us the courage, the determination, the understanding and the knowledge to make a difference.

As one of the student’s said on returning home from meeting everyone at St John’s ““You need to do something with your faith. If you believe in making the world a better place, you need to act on what you believe…” 

Our workshop ‘All to Play for’ was based on the experiences of young people in Korogocho and involved playing a game of handball with a ball made of recycled plastic bags.  Sports balls are not always easy to find in Korogocho and often made of recycled materials – although they are made with a lot more expertise than my feeble effort!  One ball fell apart! Just as well I had a back up!

Each time a goal was scored, a cause of poverty was taken off the ball and a bonus point (which was a possible solution) was awarded.  The aim was to get rid of as many causes of poverty as possible – which we did in record time!!  At the same time we gave out random ‘forfeits’ to team players in possession of the ball when the whistle blew!

Afterwards we reflected on the causes of poverty and how we would feel about facing such obstacles in our daily lives.  We also looked at how the young people in Korogocho act as a force for positive change in their community and how we too can pray, act and give in solidarity with them.

A great day!

The ‘All to Play For’ handball game can be downloaded from

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