ROCHESTER — The Catholic priest, youth ministers and CYO coaches who took part in the Faith Fútbol Match fundraiser at Marina Auto Stadium Sept. 13 didn’t seem to mind the absence of scorekeepers, timekeepers and referees during the interfaith soccer game.
When players shuffled the team roster at the last minute by swapping light and dark shirts, it was clear that the game was just for fun. After pausing for pictures, the teams took to the field.
The game, which was a fundraiser for area parishes, featured some spectacular plays, including diving catches by the goalies and some inspired moves by players from several Catholic and non-Catholic churches. Players stopped for water breaks whenever the honorary coaches could get everyone’s attention, sans whistle. Play stopped for good once two players limped off the field with what appeared to be minor leg pain.
For the record, the final score was 8-2.
"The other team was a lot better, but it was all for a great time and for a good cause," said Christopher Kehoe, a parishioner of Churchville’s St. Vincent de Paul Parish.
The event took place on the home field of the Rochester Rhinos soccer team, and admission to the match included a Rhinos game that followed the church event. The event was organized by the Rhinos and included participants from such parishes as St. Vincent, St. Michael and Peace of Christ in Rochester, and St. Lawrence in Greece. Other churches participating included Elim Gospel Church, East Williamson Church and Bible Baptist Church.
"The Rhinos wouldn’t stand a chance against us," Peace of Christ Parochial Vicar Father Brian Carpenter quipped following the game.
Geri Pietrzak, diocesan coordinator of CYO sports, noted that tickets to the Faith Fútbol match were sold at a discount.
"It’s fun," Pietrzak said of the game. "It’s a chance to play on the big field, and a way of supporting local soccer programs, and it’s the Rhinos giving back to the community."
Fairport resident Alison LeChase, youth minister and director of the CYO program at Peace of Christ Parish, said the event helped her parish to raise money to send its youths to the National Catholic Youth Conference, which will be held in Kansas City, Mo., Nov. 19-21.
"So often we’re the coaches, so it was fun to get out there and play," said LeChase, who noted she hasn’t played soccer since high school.
"There are definitely people with more experience," said Mary Flaherty, a parishioner of St. Vincent in Churchville, who played in the game.
More than 50 fans in the stands cheered on their church representatives during the game. In addition to cheering, some even helpfully called out suggestions about post-game ibuprofen.
"I don’t know if I have enough Motrin to deal with the aches and pains," joked player Joe Chiapperi, coach of the fifth- and sixth-grade girls CYO soccer team at St. Lawrence.