Football Transforming Lives
We received an encouraging email from one of the young men who Vernon has been supporting for a number of years. Vernon had already written an article about football for the monthly and I wanted to include some extracts from the email to show the impact that being involved in young peoples lives is having.
Outsiders would view this group as 60 minutes of five-a-side football; they will not, however, understand the fulfilling and rewarding experience given to each individual who attends. It is common to hear quotes from the players such as ‘has that really been 60 minutes?’ ‘I can’t wait until next week’ and ‘can we please play another few minutes?’.
Vernon encourages the older players to utilise themselves as role models. Enforcing that integrity on the pitch is worth more than the end result. It is now commonplace for players to own up to whether their goal should or should not be allowed; which was unthinkable when Wednesday football was first arranged. This is down to Vernon’s influence and the positive ethos from the relationships developing within the group. Vernon’s speeches (pre-game) are inspirational and his prayers are poignant and stirring. He was one of the many people who helped support me in my Christian journey and to find faith. Now as a fellow Christian, I am enthused to give speeches on my experiences of what brought me into faith.
Opportunities for regular, meaningful contact with young men are hard to come by. This is unsurprising when one considers the life of the typical young man. Adults require them to do many things - get up, go to bed, go to school / college / work, obey the law, pay rent, tax, board…, None of these are particularly rewarding in the short term and meanwhile young men are genetically driven to separate themselves from the adults in their lives. What will they do in the time they are able to escape the control of adults? It’s unlikely they will choose to give it to an adult - unless the adult is especially canny. Purveyors of devices, apps, comms platforms, drugs, pornography and the like are far wiser than we typically are when it comes to presenting young men with options. Their products rarely look like authority figure adults.
Meanwhile, at 17:00 on Wednesday afternoons, young men assemble for a game of football in Ashby. They enjoy playing football with their peers. We also nibble on the Bible with the aid of the plentiful illustrations and opportunities for application that playing football provides. And we pray briefly.
After a decade or so of this Church hosted football some young men have come to realise that the Bible is about real life, really real life. I meet 1:1 with some at other times in the week and, through partnership with CAP, some are developing a support network amongst the local Church. One was baptised not long ago.
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