Pope Francis receives Romani footballers, including Jaroslav Horváth and Lukáš Pulko of the Czech Republic, ahead of friendly match
Yesterday Pope Francis met with the football teams of the World Roma Federation, the Vatican itself, and representatives of Lazio Roma. Today the "Romani representation" will compete with the Vatican team in Lazio Roma's training center.
The Romani footballers include Jaroslav Horváth and Lukáš Pulko of the Czech Republic. "An unbelievable journey, two Romani guys from the street meeting Pope Francis, who shook our hands and blessed the Romani nation," Horváth posted to Facebook.
"We were honored, history is being made here," the footballer added. As part of the "We Are All Brothers" program, Francis is expanding his efforts to promote brotherhood and dialogue through sports.
That effort corresponds to Lazio Roma's efforts to combat discrimination and racism in football. The team is sponsoring the friendly football match today between the Vatican and the team of the World Roma Federation.
The football team of the World Roma Federation was established in Croatia. Profits from the match and from the auctioning of signed footballs used in yesterday's Lazio-Juventus match in the A Series will be donated to the program of the Archdiocese of Rome aiming to include Romani children in local football clubs.
Pulko hails from Ústí nad Labem, Czech Republic and actively dedicated himself to football from the age of 10. Until he turned 18 he played for the league in his home town, but then suffered an injury that ended his career as a professional.
Despite the fact that he no longer plays professionally, he decided to dedicate his energy, experience and know-how to other boys, most of them Romani, who play in the streets of his home town unattended. He began training them in his free time.
Pulka has established the amateur football club Mongaguá for these children, which is now active in several other cities in the Czech Republic. The Mongaguá club in Ostrava is led by Jaroslav Horváth.
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