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The tournament you never heard of


Seven questions with seminarian and soccer player Austin Faur

Ever heard of the Clericus Cup? You’re not alone. In the world of seminary students, though, it’s not an uncommon topic of conversation.

The Clericus Cup is an annual soccer tournament for teams from Catholic seminaries in Rome. This year’s tourney kicked off in February, and the championship match is scheduled for May 28.

Founded in 2007, the league has 16 teams and players represent countries such as the U.S., Mexico and Italy. Diocesan seminarian Austin Faur, a student at the Pontifical North American College, is one such player. Raleigh to Rome recently corresponded with him via email about the experience.

Raleigh to Rome: Where are you from? How long have you played soccer?

Austin Faur: I grew up in Raleigh and started playing soccer my sophomore year of high school at St. Thomas More Academy. I grew up playing defense … last year Fr. Ian Van Heusen moved me to midfield for the Vianney Cup at St. Charles [Borromeo Seminary in Philadelphia.]

RTR: How are the teams determined for Clericus Cup? Do you represent your seminary and play with those you study with? Or are seminarians mixed up on various teams? 

AF: Teams are formed both ways.  Some teams like the French, Mexican, and Spanish Colleges are able to field their own team like the NAC [North American College.]  Other teams are formed by pulling students from the university they attend.  For example, the Gregorian University and the Augustinian are able to form teams with students who may not be able to play otherwise.  That makes things interesting because they have seminarians from Germany, Italy, Nigeria, Peru, Poland and Croatia all playing for the same team.

RTR: How did you become involved?

AF: If you came to the practices you were a part of the team.  I played soccer at St. Charles Seminary in the Vianney Cup, so when I heard about the Clericus Cup I knew I wanted to be on the team.  Seminarians are competitive so it's a fun environment. 

RTR: What do you enjoy most about it? You probably play with teammates and opponents who speak other languages, right?

AF: I love being a part of the team.  We realize we're just seminarians and not professional soccer players so we're able to have a good time and make jokes while still keeping the level of play competitive.  Everyone on the NAC team speaks English since we're either from the U.S. or Australia, but when we play other teams the common language is Italian or they may know some English phrases like “good luck.” My Italian isn't that good, though. If the referee makes a call sometimes I have to ask my friend what he was saying. 

RTR: Is anyone else from the Diocese of Raleigh playing in the Clericus Cup?

AF: Not this year.

RTR: We understand you’ve had success on the field and scored goals, too! Are you a forward?

AF: I play left midfield.  In our first game, I came in as a sub and didn’t score.  Unfortunately, one my teammates couldn’t play the next two games because of an ankle injury and I was the next man up.  I scored two goals in our second game and one goal in our third game.  They weren’t nicest goals, but the ball ended up in the back of the net and that’s all that counts.  No assists yet. We won two of our first three games, so we moved onto the Championship Round which begins in May.

RTR: Is there anything else you’d like to share?

AF: At the beginning of the season, we talked about playing with a special intention in mind.  We're living in Rome playing a game we love, but we remember that's not the case for Christians around the world.  While we're safely playing soccer, Christians around the world, not far from where we are even, are being persecuted.  So before every game and practice, we pray for these Christians and remind ourselves of the big picture.  Any pain or bad call that goes against us on the field is nothing compared to what they're suffering.  It really helps keep things in perspective.