United by a Shared Passion
While millions will be glued to this summer's European football championships, the popularity of the game has not been lost on one Baptist church
Hivings Free Church, in a deprived area in Chesham, Buckinghamshire, wanted to find a way to engage with bored young people on their housing estate who were often getting into trouble. Minister, The Revd Sam Owoo, asked what they were interested in.
The common answer was football.
Sam set up a football club with help from a former professional footballer from Cameroon, Jean Black Ngody who he had met on the estate.
Both Sam and Jean have obtained FA coach qualifications and are encouraging some of the young people to do likewise as it will open up further employment opportunities.
The football club has grown to 60 members and has reduced anti-social behaviour on the estate. It is featured on a new film produced by the Baptist Union of Great Britain called Football for All
Jean Black had drifted away from his Christian faith. When he met Sam and getting involved with the football club reignited his interest leading to him being baptised on New Year’s Day this year.
‘It was only when I met Sam and his dedication to the young people and the impact he has brought to the young people, I understood what Christianity was all about. That was one of the reasons why I came back to being a Christian.’
Jeff Haines, a teenager on the estate who is part of the football club, explains on the film the impact the club has had on him and his peers.
‘Football means everything to us. It gives us something to do, it gives us self control, it gives us belief. We’ve actually got something to believe in now.’
Accompanying the video, the BUGB’s Mission Department has produced a mission file which includes contributions from Sam and others on setting up a football club and how the game can be used to engage young people in mission.
In the film, Sam challenges churches to engage with young people, something he believes the football club is doing.
‘If we say we have good news, how relevant is the good news to those who are unemployed, to those who are hanging out on the streets, and those who are living out on the estates who are causing a nuisance to their communities?’