History

Sports Plus: The highlight of the summer 

The Sports Plus story began in 1994 under the name Adventure Plus, but the vision was born there: to disciple young sportspeople. Since then, hundreds of parents and guardians will be able to echo these words of Dave ‘Willo’ Willis, our first official Sports Plus Director.

Willo“From a personal point of view, my eldest son was saved at Sports Plus, so that’s got to be a huge highlight. My youngest son would say that Sports Plus really helped him to see the whole picture of his faith. The amazing bonds of friendship have also really stood out.”

Although the 2017 camps, which began in Perth looked a bit different from the first official Sports Plus one at Cokethorpe School in 1995, the vision remains the same.

“We had around 30 young people at the first camp in 1995,” said Dave. “There was no such thing as just doing one role, coach or a leader, you were supportive in all the roles - even the sandwich making and table preparations as it was all self-catering! It was very small beginnings and it’s amazing to look at what God has done. It’s a real joy for me.

“It was really well-received at the time and proved to be a brilliant framework for what we have now. It’s been great for me to see behind the scenes how the work, the level of quality and expertise has developed over the years. I look at what we have by God’s grace and am blown away by His goodness.”

By 2005, there were camps in all four home countries and we expanded into Jersey in 2015. More than 650 young people attended camps in the summer of 2017. It has also been a real privilege to see the Sports Plus vision extend beyond the UK, with similar camps starting up across Europe and beyond.

Sports Plus by numbers

 

Dave said: “God can do far more than we ask or imagine. When I see other people coming to the camps, looking at the model of Sports Plus and putting it on in their own countries, I’m just amazed at what God is doing.”

Ian ‘Lancs’ Lancaster has been the Sports Plus Director since 2005. In his time, there have been two main, gradual changes - increasing the standard of sport and sharpening the Bible teaching programme.

Ian explained: “We’ve made sure that Sports Plus targets the young person who loves sport and plays and trains regularly in a school or local club team. That’s why it’s serious sports action for the serious sports young person! We’ve also moved towards making sure that the gospel accounts are at the centre of our Bible teaching sessions. This is the most accessible place for young people to see Jesus - who He is and what He has done!”

Now a Sports Plus veteran, Ian has many highlights, but a couple stand out for him.

“Leading a team at Armagh a few years ago, I remember helping a boy grapple with the truths of the Bible and watching the way the Spirit opened his eyes to the point where he recognised he needed to be saved and prayed a simple prayer to accept Jesus.

“I also love the circle we form after the final Team Challenge on Friday, singing and praying together. The parents and guardians who see it really get a flavour of Sports Plus.”

Being part of Sports Plus over the years has been a real joy to so many of us. Dave sums it up like this: “Seeing young people come to faith and grow in their faith and then coming through into leadership is amazing too. I say ‘God, You’re so kind to me because You’ve allowed me to be part of such a brilliant thing’.

How can I pray for Sports Plus 2016?