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A community called sport 
 

It's the biggest community in our society - and one where we can communicate the heart of God. Here's how, writes Warren Evans 


Sports chaplaincy700

Welcome, to a community called sport. It is a community comprising a vast array of smaller communities across the world, a community just like any other. You may belong to one of these communities, you may know of one in your town or village, but whatever your level of engagement with the community called sport, it is wide-ranging and ever-advancing in numbers.


Sports stars are human beings too...  

What do you think of when you see an athlete adorn a medal at the Olympic Games or your favourite football team, hopefully, lifting the coveted silverware?

Success; of course. Fulfillment; maybe. 

Care-free living; rarely, if ever. The pedestals upon which society elevates sporting stars can cost us understanding - the reality is every sports star is a human being, no different to you or I.

In Great Britain, we are getting to grips with conversations about mental health, with Princes William and Harry raising the profile of the subject recently, but the community of sport, it has to be said, is ahead of game when it comes to tackling these issues head on.
 
High-profile sports stars like England cricketer Marcus Trescothick, who cut his international short due to depression, have shared their stories. Former Wales manager Gary Speed’s suicide was widely documented, meaning sport has been forced into conversation and reform.
 
Precisely, where Sports Chaplaincy UK steps in up and down the country. Week in, week out, from amateur level right up to the elite echelons of the community called sport, there are human beings in need of support, an ear to listen, a shoulder to cry on and a word of encouragement.


'You are valued for who you are'  

As Sports Chaplaincy UK, we are not there to enforce our beliefs on others. We are there to respond to the questions of life and be there for people, who are often treated as commodities by their sport and its fans.
 
When it comes to taking faith outside the walls of the Church, we can sometimes create towers in our minds we must climb in order to effectively reach people. Chaplaincy proves the small things really can make a big difference.
 
When I walk into a club and ask people how they’re doing, offer a genuine interest in their welfare and concern for what is happening in their world, believers and those with no faith at all, I am conveying the heart of God which says, “You are valued for who you are, not what you do or can achieve.”
 
Chaplains are not there to preach sermons to players, but to help guide perspective on life. This is so important given the rigours and demands of sport can take on mental wellbeing.

Tony Adams, the former Arsenal captain and England centre-back once quipped, “Football was my drug,” as he opened up to how a leg break saw he drawn into alcoholism, simply because his drug of choice had been stripped away.
 
Often people involved in the community called sport embody similarly addictive personalities. If they are to succeed and reach the top level, they must adopt this all-in approach. However, the consequences can be fatal, which is why it is crucial chaplains are available to bring hope, offer an alternative view of life and encourage people, especially when injury hits or form dips.

Encouragement is a vital role of Sports Chaplaincy UK.


The largest community in our society  

Sport is not just what you see on television or read about in the newspapers, though; there are more than 151,000 registered sports club in the UK - a community totaling millions of people. And it doesn’t simply stop on the field, with sports chaplains also taking a pivotal role behind the scenes, talking and sharing with backroom staff, office workers, cleaners, fans and more.
 
Show me a bigger community in our society than the community called sport.

As the Church we have a crucial responsibility. The community called sport and the church community gathers at similar times. I believe we are not called to force people to make choice between the two,   but to step out in this world making up such a large demographic of our nation and be a loving presence to communicate the heart of God.


A chaplain in every sports club  

If we can impact the community called sport, we can impact our wider community and the United Kingdom as a whole. It's why Sports Chaplaincy UK, as we move into our 26th year, has a vision to see a chaplain present in every professional and amateur sports club across the nation.
 
But what does a chaplain look like? Well, chaplain, most likely, throws up some stereotypical images, but as a former bouncer in excess of six foot, walking around with no dog collar, I probably break the mould.

Warren Evans

Warren Evans




With the correct training and passion for the community called sport, anyone with a love for God and people can become a sports chaplain. At Sports Chaplaincy UK we run training courses and seminars in order to equip and inspire current and future chaplains, all centred around our key values; presence, excellence, confidentiality and humility.

Do you think you could help us fulfill our God-given dream to see Sports Chaplaincy UK present in ever community called sport? Head to our website, www.sportschaplaincy.org.uk, register your interest, attend an induction day and interviews. 

The number of chaplains in the UK has grown significantly as Sports Chaplaincy UK alone has trained more than 300 chaplains in the last two years. You too can add another stroke of light to the ever-growing canvas of grace God is painting throughout the community called sport.



Warren Evans is the chief executive of Sports Chaplaincy UK, an organisation seeking to provide spiritual and pastoral care to professional and amateur sport. 

The charity was established in 1991 as SCORE, resulting from the pioneering work in sports chaplaincy of John Boyers, under the guidance and direction of leaders of the Baptist Union of Great Britain

Sports Chaplaincy UK is calling on all Christians to join with them in taking part in a Day of Prayer for the community of sport on Sunday, 24 June. Resources and a special video are being prepared for this event.


Related: Sports chaplaincy celebration - and challenge 
Churches have been urged to explore the huge mission fields on their doorstep - sports clubs and gyms

 

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