John Paul II was known for his love of sport as a means of building spiritual character through excellence in sporting skills and fitness, discipline and self-sacrifice. In 2010 Pope Benedict XVI, during his visit to Britain, launched the John Paul 2 Foundation 4 Sport.
This Catholic charity is promoting sport as a catalyst and conduit to enable all people to embrace a greater vision of, and higher values for, themselves and those around them.
The aim is to make use of sports grounds and facilities belonging to Catholic schools with capacity to offer, so that young people who have no access to clubs or teams and who might otherwise fall into gangs can channel their energies into constructive, healthy sporting activities.
The foundation supports 15 sports clubs. In London an initiative run at a school in Ladbrooke Grove offers football to girls and primary school children and dance for primary and secondary school girls, as well as basketball to students at St Charles Sixth Form College.
At a school in Greenford, 30 boys and 20 girls are trained by coaches from Brentford Football Club, which has just won the Award as Community Football Club of the Year 2014.
Representatives from the foundation have taken assemblies in the schools they work with as the foundation seeks to integrate the virtues of John Paul II’s character – ambition, application, moral courage, care for others and so on – into the lives of the children.