A friendly football match was arranged in the Tishk International University (TIU) stadium on March 3, 2021 in the afternoon. With the collaboration of Scholas Occurentes Foundation in Vatican City, this event was organized to mark the special occasion of Pope Francis’ visit to Iraq. Scholas representatives, Dr. Mario Del Verme, Sports Director at Scholas, and Mr. Manuel Deza, International Teacher at Scholas, also attended the event.
Due to the relatively great diversity in TIU, the players of the teams were selected among various religions and ethnic backgrounds to show a peaceful environment where differences are embraced and accepted. Before the start of the match, an opening ceremony was held where an olive tree was planted in TIU campus as a symbol of peace and coexistence. An olive tree is a symbol of peace, wisdom and stability which was very appropriate for the purpose of the visit. Dr. Idris Hadi Salih, Head of Board of Trustees, Prof. Dr. Ahmet Oztas, Director of International Relations Office, our staff, and students along with the Scholas delegation joined the planting ceremony. Dr. Idris and Dr. Mario put together a speech about the purpose and significance of planting an olive tree and what it symbolizes. In the ceremony, Dr. Oztas stated that “the Scholas team will bring a tablet from Vatican City for this tree as remembrance of this day and Pope Francis’s visit to Erbil/Iraq.”