The Ecumenical Game day on August 20, 2016, was one of the Glorious day for the Philadelphia ecumenical community where 200 Volley Ball and Basket Ball players between the ages of 6 and 60 assembled at the Jews Community Center (JCC) in North East Philadelphia. We were there to find out who would become this year’s best Volley Ball and Basket Ball teams in the Philadelphia area. Around 250 spectators also came out in support their favorite teams. It was a fellowship of all children of God from various churches in Philadelphia whether born here in American or in India, young or old. And of courses all our Vicars came out very strongly and showed that we are one in Christ. It was unbelievable to see our youth’s respect and discipline in and out of the court, evidence that our families and parishes are doing a good job in raising of our children and guiding them in the right path.
The opening session of the Game Day started at 9:00 A.M. and the games started after inauguration by Very Rev. Jose Chamakalayil Cor-Episcopa, Vicar General of Syro Malankara Pattanamthitta Diocese and Rev. Fr Saji Mukoot Co-Chairman of ECC. It was nice to see so many Achen’s had come to the Game day at JCC. They are Sibu Achen (Chairman) Rev. Fr. M.K. Kuriakose, Rev.fr. Binu C. Samuel, Santhosh Achen, Varkey Thomas Achen, Rev. Varghese K Thoams, Regi Achen, Geevarghese Achen, Abraham Achen, Abu Peter Achen, and Sibi Varghese Achen. (Hope I did not left out anybody else)
To pull this kind of a big event we need a great team. We are very fortunate to work under the great leadership of Rev. Fr. Shibu Mathai (Chairman), Rev. Fr. Saji Mukoot (Co-Chairman) and many other supporting Achens. With the support from our Vicars we lay leaders can do wonders in our community. We had a core team under the great leadership of Sumod Jacob (sports coordinator) Biji Joseph (Treasurer ) Jimmy Joseph ( Basket Ball coordinator), Sajeev Sankarthil (Media), Biju Abraham , Binu Joseph, Sonu, Aij, Ellis (scoreboard) Xavior Moozhikkatthu (facility), Shyla (Medical) Sebastian (Judge) and many others who worked in many areas.
We were able to finish all the games before 7:00 PM and the price distribution and special recognition followed. St George Orthodox Church was the winners for a second time in Volleyball and Ascension Marthoma church was runners-up. In Basket Ball it was Syro Malabar Church A teams who came out as winners and St Gregorios Orthodox Church the runners-up. Congratulations to all.
This year we reorganized a couple of outstanding former players from our community whose contribution has helped promote these games.
For Volley Ball, Sujatha Sebastian of Syro Malabar church who was former Indian International Volley Ball player and also played for Kerala State, University and Madura coats team.
For Basketball it was Mohan Samuel of St Thomas Indian Orthodox Church recognized for representing as a player in the Indian University team, Captain of Kerala University team, player in the Kerala State Men’s team and Customs and Central excise team.
We also recognized Sumod Jacob for coordination 2016 Game Day and Xavier Moozhikkattu for his outstanding ability of engaging our youths through sports in the Philadelphia Area for a decade or more.
Lastly, I wanted to mention a word about the uneasiness we felt when at the last movement JCC intimidated to cancel our reservation for use of their courts with no apparent reason. With the timely intervention of Biji Joseph (Treasurer) and Xavier Moozhikattu we avoided that situation, but we had to make all payments up front, including the gratuities to custodians. Our original plan was to have Indian snacks for sale at the event, which was verbally agreed upon, but we were stopped. This was the first time that I felt in my heart the need to have our own community center for our use. Our community has been blessed with the resources and the ability to manage such facilities, then why can’t have our own facility. It is my wish and prayer that with the right approach and plan presented before the twenty-one churches and its members, we will be able to accomplish this endeavor and be blessed with our own community center in the near future.