Christians In Sport

Kirsten Ross

Scottish Regional Worker

What an amazing summer of sport it has been, and the UK has proved it can deliver, both in terms of hosting major sporting events and having success at them.  Particular highlights for me must include the Lionesses historic win in the Euros, Eilish McColgan and Laura Muir’s success on the track in Birmingham, and now, at the time of writing this, I am glued to all the thrills and spills of the European Championships in Munich. 

I am sure that even the least sporty of you get caught up in the buzz and the action of major sporting events, especially perhaps the multi-sport ones!  There is something for everyone to enjoy and there is no doubt that sport remains a significant driver of our culture.  Each week in Scotland, over 1 million people participate in sport, within registered clubs and teams, and yet the vast majority of them don’t yet know Christ.  With this in mind, Christians in Sport long to see the world of sport reached for Christ. 

Imagine a Christian in every one of the 12,000 registered sports clubs in Scotland.  A Christian who has grasped that their sporting passion and abilities are a gift from God and can be used as an act of worship as they offer back to Him their bodies, talents, relationships.  And as they worship God, they also seek to be a witness for him within the context of the relationships they enjoy in their sport, committing to pray for the team-mates and sports friends, looking for opportunities to play and live in a way that is distinctive, in a way that points their sports friends to Jesus, and boldly taking chances to say something of the good news of Christ when they can.

That is the dream, and our resources, training and events are created and delivered with this in mind so that ultimately many sportspeople will have the chance to hear and respond to the gospel. 

The breadth of the work is vast, from supporting young sports-players, students in university sport, adult club players and those competing at an elite level, both at home and globally.  But I want to highlight three aspects of what we do, which I think will be of particular interest to members of TCF.

Sports Plus camps

We are just coming to the end of another wonderful summer of Sports Plus camps.  These residential camps for 11-17 year olds aim to provide ‘serious sports action for the serious young sports-player’, combining quality coaching and team competitions with the chance to explore more of the Christian faith and what it means to be a Christian in sport.  It has been wonderful to see over 700 young people take up this opportunity this summer and we are so thankful for the 300+ leaders and 150 Trainees who make Sports Plus happen. 

Rebekah Rose
Rebekah Rose

One TCF member has been a regular at the Scottish camp since she was 12.  Now in her second year of University, Rebekah Rose has been part of our Trainee scheme for the last two summers, and she reflects on her experience over the years… 

“Sports Plus has been a highlight of my summer holidays since 2014. As a young person I loved the sport, being around like-minded people, and learning what it means to be a Christian sports person. Christians in Sport have helped me to see how sport and my faith can go together and that I can worship and be a witness for Christ through how I play and act. I have really enjoyed being a Trainee, learning how to serve others and to be a witness for Christ in my university hockey team.”

Elite Sport

Another area of the work that has been particularly busy over the summer period has been our support for those competing at an elite or professional level.  We recognize that the challenges they face are unique.  I mentioned some of the highlights of the summer but what about the teams that lost, or the athletes that got injured, or the competitors that failed to perform in the way they knew they were capable?  Our specialist team members understand these unique pressures and work with over 500 top-level sportspeople providing support.  

We have worked hard over the last couple of years to grow and develop our support of Young Performance Athletes, in particular those aged 15-21years, and their families. 

One family who has benefitted from this support is your very own Geddes family as Jack goes from strength to strength with his fencing.  Just returning from the Commonwealth Fencing Championships, his mum Susan describes some of the challenges and how CIS have helped them navigate them…

“Having a competitive sports person in the family is like riding a rollercoaster. Jack’s first training injury sent us into a spin. There is a ton of new terminology to pick up, equipment he needs, competitions to be booked along with travel and accommodation in towns we have never been to in our lives before. We are often away at the weekends, which means missing church, results vary wildly, and it can be hard to keep perspective but Christians in Sport have been such a positive influence with the constant reminders that through all the ups and downs our identity in Christ remains the same.

“We believe fencing is no accident but something that God has brought into Jack’s life. On the fencing piste, Jack comes alive in a different way that I hardly see at any other time – it is where he is most at home (see www.christiansinsport.org.uk/borntoplay* ) We also have the opportunity to meet a lot of lovely people, with whom we have the shared love of sport in common, and we do pray that we can be a witness for the Lord Jesus in every situation”.

“Christians in Sport have been a huge encouragement as we have taken on these new challenges – they really do ‘get it’. There is a Whatsapp group for parents of young performance athletes which is so supportive. They also run a monthly Zoom call and it has been a joy to meet, share and pray with these families around the unique but often common challenges we face”.

Jack Geddes - with his junior team bronze medal at the Commonwealth Fencing Championships 2022

Local Networks – Call to Action

Finally, September sees the launch of 40 local networks for adult sportspeople, including one in Perth.  By connecting with other Christians involved in sport we can pray for our local clubs and teams and together look to share the good news of Jesus with those we compete with.  We’ll be looking to meet three times a year to pray and put on events for sportspeople so if you are aged 18 years and up (16/17yr olds can attend with a parent/guardian) and involved in sport in Perth and Kinross, whether as a player, coach, medic, official etc., we’d love to connect with you.  Sign up to the Perth network here, www.christiansinsport.org.uk/local and we will be in touch.

Published 26th August 2022

Header photo by Vince Fleming on Unsplash