Rome: In a first for world sport, the Vatican cricket team took on an all-Muslim side from England today with the home squad clinching narrow win in the final minutes.
"It is not about who wins or loses," priest Eamonn O'Higgins, manager of the Vatican team told AFP, after leading the enthusiastic players in a prayer and rousing hymn on the bus journey to the match.
"It is about building bridges between different faiths through cricket," he said as they arrived at Rome's Capanelle cricket ground.
The Muslim Mount CC team landed in the Italian capital Thursday and were treated to a tour of St. Peter's Basilica and the Vatican Museums prior to the match in hot Roman sunshine.
The two teams were also set to dine together and attend mass at the Vatican on Sunday.
"The hospitality has been outstanding and it is such a honour to be here," said Hanif Mayet, Mount CC's chair.
He founded the club in 1976 after claims of racism in Yorkshire in northern England made joining an all-white cricket club an almost impossible task.
Desperate to play, Mayet put together a team with friends.
"Thankfully, nowadays attitudes have improved greatly and where we live racism is no longer a problem. Our club is also open to everyone, we don't discriminate, but it has remained predominantly Muslim," he said.