Stories

Laying the foundations for a life of sports mission

Date posted: 08/11/16

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Parents play a key role in our young people’s work at Christians in Sport. It goes without saying that we could not run Sports Plus camps without their support and we are so grateful to them for that. Parents also know the cost of supporting their sons and daughters in the world of sport. The lifts to training and competitions, early morning fitness sessions in the bitter cold and tough choices are all part of having sporty children. As our fundraising campaign to grow the work of Christians in Sport gathers pace, we spoke to parents from across the UK about how Sports Plus can lay the foundations for a life of reaching the world of sport for Christ.

Hayley and Stuart, Cambridge, England

Stuart first got involved with Christians in Sport when leading a mission with Graham Daniels in 1992. Three of his and Hayley’s sons, Kieran, Jordan and Curtis, who are all athletes, have now come to Sports Plus.

Hayley said: “It started with the summer camps four or five years ago. They were all quite reluctant to go, especially as they are quite shy, homebird kind of characters. One of them unpacked his bags on the morning he was due to go for the first time!

“We really felt it was important for them to have their own place to explore their faith, which was not connected to dad’s work as a church minister.”

Wood family

 

(from left): Jordan, Stuart, Corban, Hayley, Curtis and Kieran

Hayley said the camps played a crucial role in “underpinning” the boys’ faith.

She explained: “We don’t have many young people in our church, but there they met many Christian young people. I think they found it quite overwhelming in a good way. It was a huge thing for them.

“Often as a teenager, you feel like you are on your own, so it was a great encouragement to realise that there are other Christians out there. They still talk about the things they learnt from their first couple of camps.”

Kieran. who is in his second year at Cardiff Metropolitan University, is now leading the Christians in Sport University Group there.

Hayley said: “This is huge for Kieran who has always been shy and avoided public speaking.  This, we believe is born out of the stability that Christians in Sport has given him over the last few years.”

He added: “All the boys wear their Audience of One bracelets at all times and it has become very much our strapline as a family when they are competing.

“When Kieran won national track championships two years ago, he insisted on wearing his Christians in Sport t-shirt on the podium as he wanted to make a statement.”

Philip and Fiona, Belfast, Northern Ireland

Philip and Fiona have been involved with Sports Plus for the last five years, with their three daughters Amy, Ellen and Holly all attending. A highlight for the girls has been the friendships they have formed.

Gilpin familyFiona said: “They have gained a lot in terms of confidence in their sport and their faith.

"They have been able to stand up for their faith in different situations and that’s all come through the teaching programme.

“I think it is rewarding to see your children growing in their own faith.

"It has been great to stand back and watch. It has been lovely to see that in their lives.”

Fiona would love to see her children keep building these links between sport and faith in Jesus as they become adults.

She said: “At Sports Plus, they are taught to share their faith from a young age and to see it as very natural.

"It is a normal thing and they do it with their teammates and school friends.

Pictured (from left): Amy, Fiona, Holly, Phillip and Ellen

“Hopefully, sport will be something that they are involved in all their lives. I just think it is so fundamental.”

Ally and Colin, Glasgow, Scotland

Ally and Colin first came across Christians in Sport 10 years ago when their older children attended a Sports Plus camp at Loretto School. Now their son Struan, a Scotland under 16 hockey player, is getting stuck in.

Ally said: “When it was time for Struan, aged 13, to head off to camp in 2015, he picked Repton and when I went to collect him afterwards, he was simply fizzing with enthusiasm. The leaders were amazing, he had so many new friends and there was so much stuff in the Bible he didn’t know.

“Repton friends came up from the south of England to visit and there was lots of post-camp snap chatting. But it seemed a long time till the next Repton camp.

Ally and Struan Walker

 

Ally and Struan

“Then Kirsten Ross (Christians in Sport Scotland Co-ordinator) stepped in with the (Young Performance Athlete) YPA programme. Every three months she organises a gathering of young people involved in performance sport and they chill, play a bit of sport and look at the Bible together.

"Seeing my teenager excited by the prospect of getting together with other young Christians is pretty amazing.

“His faith is growing and he’s not afraid to tell his friends he goes to church and is a Christian. He also learned to bounce up for breakfast and to sing with enthusiasm.”

Ally added: “We have gained enormously as we feel hugely supported by Christians in Sport people, other parents and resources. It is so wonderful to know that the Christians in Sport team pray for us as well as for the young people. It’s not easy being a parent of teenagers and it’s so good to have Christians in Sport on side.”

Tony and Claire, Aberdare, South Wales

Tony and Claire were involved in the very first Sports Plus camp in Brecon 15 years ago. Claire provided physiotherapy support and Tony gave talks on sports nutrition.

Now, their children Kate and Sam, who are both international judo fighters, are Sports Plus regulars themselves, with Kate being a trainee leader this year.

"Clare and I are very sports oriented and committed Christians as are Kate and Sam," said Tony. “As parents we feel strongly that Christians in Sport has a lot to offer and our experience of Sports Plus has been extremely positive.

“The atmosphere is warm, friendly and safe with great coaching, great Bible teaching and great fun.

Kate and Sam Ashton

 

Kate and Sam

“For Kate and Sam, Sports Plus is vital to recharge their spiritual batteries and in many ways it keeps them going as they compete as elite athletes.

“Because there are no other teenagers in their church, having Christians at Sports Plus they can identify with and who understand the demands of elite sport is crucial.

“It is good to know that our children are getting solid Bible teaching and can worship and learn in an environment they can relate to. As a result, they are growing and maturing in their faith.”

Tony added: "One of the ways Sports Plus can help is to build young people's confidence in sharing their faith with teammates and to support them in trying to balance the demands of elite sport with being a Christian."


We’ve never factored in any staffing time to the prices of Sports Plus. God willing, this campaign will raise funds for us to support the right staffing to focus on camp, grow the capacity for more young people to attend camp and to develop more leaders and coaches.

Will you prayerfully consider partnering with us by December 2016 to support this growing work? 

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Every sportsperson knows the cost  

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Ed Mezzetti

Ed Mezzetti, City of York Athletic Club
Ed runs for City of York Athletic Club and is Digital Content Manager for Christians in Sport. He is a member of St Thomas' Church, York