Krakow (Poland). From 29 April to 2 May 2018, the XXIX Edition of the International Salesian Youth Games took place in Krakow, Poland, an international event that saw the participation of about 1700 athletes between 13 and 17 years of age, together with their trainers-educators and leaders, Salesians, and Daughters of Mary Help of Christians, and family members from 23 countries: Africa (Tanzania, Central African Republic, Zambia); Asia (Syria); America (Brazil); and Europe: (Portugal, Spain, Italy, Slovenia, Croatia, Belgium, Germany, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Austria, Poland, Hungary, Albania, Moldova, Russia, Belarus, Lithuania, and the Ukraine).

In this edition of the Games, a worldwide dimension was breathed thanks to the commitment of SALOS, the Polish Salesian sports organization and the SDB and FMA provinces of Poland.

The aim of the Salesian Games, which take place annually in European nations, animated by the Salesian sports movement PGS International (PGS-I), supported by the FMA and SDB Youth Ministry Sectors, is to offer adolescents an opportunity to live sports and experience the beauty of solidarity and a harmonious society, where the values of peace, friendship, fair play, and Salesian spirituality are expressed through play and co-existence. During the four days in the sports fields and gyms animated by contagious joy, 556 volleyball, basketball, football and table tennis games were played, thanks to the service of a hundred referees and technical staff and the commitment of about 200 young volunteers.

Along the streets of Krakow and in the most characteristic cultural and tourist places of the city, between visits and outings, walks and concerts, friendships were established, symbol of a more united and peaceful world.

At the opening ceremony of the Games in the Salesian parish of St. Stanislaus Kostka, presided over by Fr Tadeusz Rozmus SDB, Regional Councilor for Central and Northern Europe, with a homily offered in 7 languages, as well as during the lively parade with the flags of the various Countries through the streets of the center of Krakow, towards the Auditorium of the Jagiellonian University, everything had a festive flavor, culminating in the solemn opening ceremony of the event.

In the silent and reflective visit to the Nazi concentration camp of Auschwitz near Krakow, over a thousand young athletes were confronted with a piece of history which must never to be repeated.

At the sanctuary of Divine Mercy, the young athletes, together with so many Salesian young people from the SDB Province of Krakow, lived a Eucharistic vigil which opened the heart to youthful prayer and to listening to testimonies, especially that of an adolescent from Aleppo, Syria, a football player and Oratorian.

Finally, on Wednesday 2 May, the two events of the “flash mob” in the Market Place and the great Salesian festival, with picnics, games, concert, prizes for the winners of the International Games, and fireworks, completed the event in the traditional Salesian atmosphere of family and fraternity, which crosses every frontier.

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