Vatican City, Italy, April 1, 2009 - Pope Benedict XVI officially received the organisers of the 2010 FIVB Men's World Championship and 300 children played in St. Peter's Square in front of St. Peter's Basilica on a special day for Volleyball on Wednesday.
During The Pope's audience this morning, the organizing committee for the FIVB 2010 Men's World Championship presented Pope Benedict XVI with an Italian national team shirt with "S. S. Benedetto 16" written on the back.
On the same day in the Rome enclave, 300 children coordinated by the Local Volleyball Federations of Rome and the region of Lazio enjoyed themselves by playing Volleyball - for the first time ever - on St. Peter's Square. Sixteen courts were set up in front of the unique backdrop of the domed roof of St. Peter's Basilica.
For one hour the children played on the Square before taking their place by the side of the square with the official delegation and the Italian men's and women's head coaches Andrea Anastasi and Massimo Barbolini. Anastasi echoed Barbolini when saying, "It's an extraordinary event to see all these children playing Volleyball on St. Peter's Square and smiling."
The FIVB Men's World Championships will be held in Italy in 10 cities, from September 24 in Milan, then on to Torino, Reggio Calabria, Modena, Verona, Catania, Ancona, Florence and Trieste before the final in Rome on October 10 (10/10/2010).
At the end of the audience with Organising Committee President Carlo Salvatori, Italian Volleyball Federation President Carlo Magri and Organising Committee General Director Francesco Ghirelli, Pope Benedict XVI told them, "It will be a wonderful World Championship."
The Pope received from children Mauro and Vittoria the official World Championship ball, as well as a national team jersey with "Benedict 16" in Italian written on the back, a commemorative plate of the day and a financial donation for a solidarity project.
The Pope also asked for information for the dates and cities of World Championships when closing the meeting with a special blessing for the 150-strong delegation, which included all the representatives of the Local Organising Committees and delegations from the ten cities.
Salvatori said, "Children are our lifeblood and to see them playing in this place and meeting with The Pope is a unique emotion and I hope it is a good omen for this World Championship. For us it is a privilege because The Pope is an incredible personality for his humanness and spirituality."
Magri said, "It's a great important day for our Volleyball movement. A day like this will stay in the memory for us and the children, and the vision of the children playing in the square is a great present to carry to the World Championship."
Ghirelli said, "The meeting represents a very important step for the 2010 FIVB World Championship that chooses to characterize itself upon solidarity and social matters, and it leaves a strong sign not only for the infrastructure of the event but also for the sport event itself and for the Italian way of how to organise such big events."
FIVB Press Department Director - Richard Baker
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