There are currently two huge football (soccer) competitions currently being staged in the Americas: the Copa America and Women’s World Cup. From what I’ve seen of both, there’s been massive talent on display, exciting games and even a bit of controversy added in for good measure. The Women’s World Cup, especially, has been great to watch – the girls play the game subtly differently to the men, but they’re still very passionate and physical (quashing a myth about the women’s game).
Football is a team game. Every player has a role to play and there are more roles than in most sports. It made me think about the different roles that people play in the pro-life movement, and there are many. So, here’s my “Pro Life United FC” first XI.
OK, starting at the back with the goalkeeper. Possibly the hardest position to play, he is the last line of defense. If he makes a mistake, it’s curtains. In the pro-life camp, the last line of defense could, I suppose, be a conscientious medical professional, working in a maternity unit. However, I doubt that there’s many of these working in specialist abortion clinics. My choice for goalkeeper is the sidewalk counsellors. Those who make themselves available to speak to women at the very last minute. They really are the last line of defense. They are also very often subject to abuse from fans, critics and team-mates alike. If they don’t succeed, the implications are visible and will be remembered for ever, just as Gary Sprake, one of the finest goalkeepers ever to wear a Leeds United shirt, will forever be remembered for the time he accidently threw the ball into his own goal, rather than his 200+ clean sheets for the mighty Leeds.
To me, the centre halves are the real organisers of the team. They see everything. Whenever I’m managing a team, my captain is always a centre half. They deal with difficult balls over the top, press up field to free up the midfield to pressure the opposition and make some real meaty challenges! It’s the powerhouse of the team. They’re also in a position to offer help to their teammates easily, as they’re always around the centre of the action. There’s no doubt, therefore, that my centre halves have to be the major organisations who promote and co-ordinate the pro-life movement. The largest of these in the UK is the Society for the Protection of Unborn Children (SPUC), led by John Smeaton, whilst in America I believe that it is the National Right for Life (NRFL) with Carol Tobias as president.
Full backs – employees of and volunteers for SPUC and NRFL
These guys need to be fast and fit, and are an integral part of any team. They have to move up field to support, as well as being key to the back four. They have to be able to sweep if a centre half is unable to deal with the ball. They work harder than any other player on the pitch and this contribution is often not noticed but they also work closely with the centre halves in defence, and are often directly co-ordinated by them, both in the line they keep for offside and direction when to go forward. Therefore, staying with SPUC and NRFL, the full backs have to be all of those people who work office jobs for these companies. The administrators. The people behind the scenes who make things happen. People who work very hard but get very little public recognition for their efforts.
The central midfielder has a number of roles. They spread the play between the two flanks. They both attack and defend. In fact, they turn defence into attack whenever they get the ball. This is essentially what pro-life politicians do. They make real efforts to actively make a change through bringing about legislation. They change things, just like David Beckham changed so many matches in his career. Life issues are much more involved in political debate in the US than they are here in the UK, but Lord Alton has tabled questions and forwarded legislation on numerous occasions during his career in both Chambers of Parliament. In America, politicians are usually more open about their stance. Being British, I don’t really know who’s who in America so I picked Senator Bob Casey, simply because he was top of the list on a website that came up in a google search for “pro-life senators”.
Wingers also work hard, and a lot of their work stays under the radar but when they put in that brilliant cross or take on three defenders and score, as Ryan Giggs used to do regularly, it is noticed and remembered. March for Life, whose president is Jeanne Mancini, is a massive event in the US and is becoming bigger every year in the UK and other countries around the world. People are doing big things to get noticed, and this also gives our strikers (see below) opportunities and exposure. I’ve also chosen Claire, our editor and president, to represent the whole of the ProLife Youth team and anyone else who blogs or writes for pro-life media – we had to be in here somewhere! My justification for this is that we continuously plug away with what we’re doing to help the team and, occasionally, we cause a stir…
OK, these are the guys who really do the damage. They see the goal, they score. A good striker gives the ‘keeper no chance. They cause problems, they make the opposition react to them. They make the headlines. Two words: Lionel Messi. So, the strikers in my team are people who cause a stir whenever they speak in public or attend an event. People who are so passionate and talented that they are always noticed. People clever enough to really make you think and question. People able to change people’s minds. I have been lucky enough to meet Gianna Jesson a few times and she fits this bill. An abortion survivor who speaks so inspirationally about her own situation and doesn’t mince her words. Also, since I’ve been working on and reading this blog, the name Lila Rose has cropped up a number of times. She is president of Live Action and makes regular media appearances where she passionately and intelligently puts forward the case against abortion. These guys cause damage to any pro-choice mindset. They score goals.
Obviously, there are other roles that people play but there’s only 11 players on a team! Film makers, musicians, pro-life doctors and nurses, religious people, counsellors for those with Post Abortion Trauma to name just a few. They might not be on the pitch, but they’re definitely in the squad and on the plane to Russia in 2018!
So, there ends my light-hearted exploration of Pro-Life United FC. I doubt we’d win many games of real football, but it’s a strong line up for what it is. Pro Life United FC - What a team!