(prepared by Bjorn and Lilian Schmid)
The COVID-19 challenge this year of 2020 has diminished the influence of many ‘optional’ occupations and ventures, perhaps forcing us to reprioritise what is important in our lives.
And yet, Sport and Recreation are still important when balanced with other life priorities as it allow us to ease our bodies, minds and souls for times of active rest and recuperation (i.e. not just passive). It also allows us to interact with other people in ways and contexts that are different from our normal daily lives (for most of us anyway).
We need times of rest and recuperation, but active times as well as passive, and the pressures this year has brought on us need to be let go as and when the crisis eases. In appropriate measure and context, Sport and Recreation can be very beneficial towards fulfilling this need.
Our prayer is that all involved in the Sphere of Sport and Recreation will be drawn to Christ Jesus and transform this sphere wherever they are to glorify God and encourage the people around them.
We also pray you have a blessed Christmas/Advent season!
Government Support of Sport in Australia
The Australia Government is committed to supporting sport in Australia from grassroots to elite; increasing participation in physical and recreational activities to promote physical and mental health; staging world class major sporting events; and utilising sport as a vehicle to address disadvantage and social inclusion challenges.
This commitment encourages greater participation in sport by all Australians and contributes to a competitive and clean Australian sports sector, based on the pursuit of excellence, integrity and leadership.
Australian Sports Commission
The Australian Sports Commission (ASC) is the Australian Government agency responsible for supporting and investing in sport.
Our focus is to improve the health and wellbeing of Australians and build stronger communities through participation and engagement with sport. From grassroots right up to the pinnacle of elite international competition, we work together with the sport industry and the wider community to champion the role sport can play in engaging every Australian regardless of age, race, gender, cultural background and physical ability.
The ASC comprises; Sport Australia — responsible for driving the broader sport sector including participation, supporting activities linked to sport and sport industry growth, and the Australian Institute of Sport (AIS) — leading our high-performance sport system.
Focus of the Australian Institute of Sport
Delivering national pride and inspiration through international sporting success. Our investment philosophy is to target multiple medallists over multiple cycles, and support our NSO partners through our resources, research and facilities. We know that success will be driven by innovation, athlete wellbeing, targeted investment and a commitment to being ahead of the game internationally.
Focus of Sport Australia
Sport Australia’s work includes:
- Determining and recognising the peak national bodies for sports in Australia, known as National Sporting Organisations (NSOs);
- Directing the Australian Government’s investment in NSOs to achieve greater sport participation outcomes and industry growth;
- Supporting NSOs with expertise and guidance in areas such as governance, financial advisory, workforce development and digital technology;
- Managing major Commonwealth grant programs, including:
* Sporting Schools
* Local Sporting Champions
* Women Leaders in Sport
- Undertaking national research with the AusPlay survey and knowledge sharing through the Clearinghouse for Sport to help connect the sporting sector and inform decision-making;
- Developing and implementing programs that encourage increased participation in sport;
- Delivering resources that provide guidance to support inclusive, safe and ethical sport.
It is interesting that if you search this website for for ‘chaplains’, only four links come up; all to do with the report “Addressing the decline in sport participation in secondary schools – Findings from the Youth Participation Research Project” dated November 2017. Chaplains are mentioned once on page 9 under “Program deliverer tips”:
Funding bodies, sports and schools can be innovative in the ways they source deliverers by:
> identifying individuals who have links to students i.e. chaplains and support officers
A pity that there is no mention of the proven benefits of having chaplains involved in school sports.
Clearinghouse for Sport
The Clearinghouse for Sport (Clearinghouse) is the information and knowledge sharing platform for Australian sport.
The Clearinghouse brings together Australia’s leading sport and active recreation agencies—using Sport Australia as the principal information coordination point—to share news, evidence and insights about sport, human performance, and physical activity.
There is very current and useful information and links on the website at clearinghouseforsport.gov.au/kb/structure-of-australian-sport
LET US GLORIFY GOD IN THE SPHERE OF SPORT AND RECREATION.
“I give thanks to you, O Lord my God, with my whole heart, and I will glorify your name forever.” (Psalm 86:12)
Do some research on your local clubs and recreation venues.
Find out about your local and wider government departments and agencies that are dedicated to sport and recreation – pray for these, for the people working in them, the gate-keepers and decision makers, and also for the Christians within them to be salt and light.
Pray for your colleagues, friends and family members who are caught up in sports and recreational activities and neglect/ignore their relationship with God and the people in the Body or Christ: pray for them to have a breakthrough in their lives and establish/renew a deep relationship with Christ, and find ways to use their sport and recreational interests to relate and share their faith with other people.
Please pray for all people involved in the Sphere of Sport and Recreation:
- Pray for the Australian and State Governments departments of Sport and Recreation.
- Pray that God will touch all sports ministers and open their eyes.
- Pray for coaches, managers and other administration and support staff.
- Pray for athletes and sportspeople, both amateur and professional.
- Pray that God will touch the heart of all national and international athletes and sportspeople.
- Pray for young people who are participating in national and international events.
- Pray that God will raise Christian athletes and sportspeople.
- Pray for sport and recreation clubs, societies and associations.
- Pray for stadiums and other sport and recreation venues.
- Pray for sport and recreation events.
- Pray that God will bless all nations during the international sporting events around the world.
- Pray for all people attending events that God will bless each one of them and infill them with His Holy Spirit.
- Pray for businesses who are investing into sport activities.
- Pray that God will bless all finances invested in the domain of sport and recreation.
Lord, we thank you for the gifts and abilities you have blessed these athletes with, and we pray that they may use them to glorify You.
All this we pray in the name of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Amen.
Sports Chaplaincy Australia (SCA)
(Article by Noel Mitaxa)
Australian sports ministry has shown God’s sovereignty in linking two unlikely partners: our national sports passion and our cultural ambivalence towards religion and authority. Unlike US immigrants, who dreamed of freedom of religion, our early settlers almost desired freedom from religion; unless religion could prove its value or credibility. However in 1984, our top sports associations began to realise that chaplaincy had credibility after Revd Mark Tronson became Australian Test cricket chaplain.
Sports chaplaincy has since grown to having over 400 chaplains serving across Australia, in the following sports organizations: Australia Institute of Sport in Canberra and all state sports academies or institutes; Australian Rules football, Rugby Union, Rugby League and Soccer; Equestrian sports, Basketball, Netball; Skiing, Tennis, Baseball, Cricket, Motor Racing, Surfing and Life Saving
However the challenges and the opportunities keep growing; for local sports associations are also seeking chaplaincy. This is because retired elite-level players are now local-level coaches and administrators, and having already seen how having a chaplain has helped them at top-level. The Victorian Country Football League has requested chaplains for all of its 880 clubs, and the Confederation of Australian Motor Sports has indicated its desire to have chaplains serving at their 500 racetracks around the country.
This opens the door for local pastors and churches, for an average sports chaplain has a pastoral care reach of approximately 500 people: for members and for their extended family, thus providing substantial and strategic reach for God’s grace and mercy.
With a chaplain providing voluntary pastoral care in every club in Australian region or city, local churches would be actively reaching 75 per cent of our population; for ABS research in 2003 revealed that each week over 30 per cent of Australians take part in organized sport, with most involved twice weekly; compared to church attendance at less than 10 percent across all Christian denominations―per month!
SCA is challenging the Australian Church to reconsider what it means to shepherd a flock; to rediscover the flock as not simply traditional church members, but also the wider community or crowd which has no shepherd (Mark 6:34).
SCA articulates its vision, mission and day-to-day activities by focusing on four key activities under ITAG: Identify, Train, Appoint and Guide.
SCA chaplains are commissioned by their local church and serve their sports community without discrimination. When asked about other faiths, SCA is quick to respond that chaplains pastorally care for everyone in their community regardless of religion, belief (or non-belief), ethnicity, gender, age or lifestyle. Any requests by people of other faiths which chaplains are unable or ill-equipped to respond to are referred to the appropriate person, be it an imam, rabbi, priest, psychologist or other faith specialist.
One concern will be pressure to license the role of the chaplain. Governments and stakeholder organizations, including some religious denominations, may seek to institutionalize chaplaincy in sport. However, the power of a servant-leadership model (unpaid, non-commercial, volunteer) and attention to keeping Jesus Christ and his grace and mercy at the centre of the mission will lessen the opportunity for these groups to control outcomes.
More exciting will be the complementary opportunities which are likely to emerge are in training, consultancy and professional services to sports bodies and communities in Australia. To date, many chaplains have served at numerous major sporting events like the Sydney Olympics, the 2001 World Masters Games, the 2003 Rugby World Cup, the Melbourne Commonwealth Games; and regional carnivals and regattas are also set to grow. However the greatest potential outcome in our growth still remains the countless lives and communities who will tangibly come to know the grace and mercy of Jesus Christ through ordinary people serving as chaplains.
We welcome your prayer as we continue to reach into Australia’s cultural heartland with God’s love.
(See website for more information – sportschaplaincy.com.au)
Strong and faithful God,
as we come together for this contest,
we ask you to bless these athletes.
Keep them safe from injury and harm,
instill in them respect for each other,
and reward them for their perseverance.
Lead us all to the rewards of your kingdom
where you live and reign for ever and ever.