No Sunday play 'the right thing'

10-year-old star gridder opts not to compete in football on Sabbath Day

Bradley Morrison loves to win. What do you expect for any 10-year-old football player? But in the past three years, Bradley has become a winner of a different sort — especially in the eyes of his family and friends. The star of his city league football team in Ottawa, Ontario, has led his teammates to three straight championships. Then missed playing in each championship game because it was played on Sunday.

Last year, his team, the Cumberland Panthers, won the title. But in 2001 and again this fall, his team fell.

But the star full-back, who also punts and plays special teams, still feels good "because I'm know I'm doing the right thing, and I want to serve God," he told the Church News. Bradley and his parents, Jean and Victoria Duval, live in the Chapel Hill Ward, Ottawa Ontario Stake.

Standing up for his beliefs hasn't been easy for the young man. Early on, Bradley and his older brother, Brandon, now 14, who played together on the "tyke" city league football team for ages 7-10, were the brunt of comments made by fellow players, and even some coaching staff and other parents.

"That first year was difficult," recalled Sister Duval. Her husband had just joined the Church that January. The family, blended from previous marriages for both Brother and Sister Duval, began discussing Church teachings about appropriate Sunday activities. Together, with Bradley, Brandon and a 12-year-old sister, Morgan, at the center of the discussion, the family decided there would be no football or other such activities on Sundays.

That fall the football team made the championship game for the first time. All season, the games had been on Saturday. But the championship would be on Sunday. The boys stuck to their decision. "There were some comments made and we were diplomatic about it," Sister Duval recalled. "Even some of the kids were not very supportive and were sometimes not kind."

"It made me feel quite sad," Bradley said. "I just explained about my church and now they accept me. I say I have this church and I have to go on Sunday and it's a family day."

Interestingly, the head coach is also the boss of stake President Gordon A. De Savigny. And it was this man who stopped all the flak the boys were receiving, including comments by some that if the boys couldn't play on Sunday, they shouldn't be playing football at all. "We're not going to let religion get in the way of a young man playing football," he told critics.

"He supported the family and Bradley 100 percent," President De Savigny said.

In fact, President De Savigny said his boss recently commented, "I don't know what you do in your church, but the people I've met are the finest people I know."

Since that first year, the boys have been welcomed on the team with "open arms," Sister Duval said. This year, Bradley was voted offensive player of the year for the team, and was nominated for the Ottawa Outstanding Youth Award.

And there have been other, less sports-related results. Bradley's and the family's standards have led to gospel discussions. Sister Duval is the team manager, and Brother Duval is the assistant manager. Recently, during a team meeting, Sister Duval said she looked around the room and "contemplated the many [gospel] conversations I've had with coaching staff and the trainers and parents. We have planted a lot of seeds."

Even Bradley has been a missionary. One of his best friends on the team has talked with him about the Church. The friend, in turn, talked about it with his father. A single father, he is bringing his son to the upcoming ward Christmas devotional, said Sister Duval.

She still recalls that first Sunday in 2001 when Bradley was in Church instead of at the championship game. It was fast and testimony meeting, and the young man stood to bear his testimony. He told the congregation that if his team won that day, they would be city league champions.

"But I know I'm a winner. I'm at Church where my Heavenly Father wants me to be."

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