What does a sports chaplain do?
The role of a sports chaplain is to provide ‘holistic pastoral and spiritual care…all towards the well-being of people in sport.’ *
Fundamentally, the role of a sports chaplain is to offer pastoral and spiritual support wherever appropriate; to staff, coaches, players and fans. Often, pastoral support and input works most successfully where relationships have been built so that levels of trust have been reached. For each sporting organisation, the chaplain can be a valuable independent listening ear, helping its members through the challenges of life. This confidential support helps athletes of all faiths and beliefs to share concerns or personal issues that they may not be willing to express to their coaches.
Being a “consistent salt and light presence” (Matthew 5:13-16) is very important – consistency, commitment & credibility being fundamental keys. The role of the chaplain will vary depending on the role defined by the club, as it is very much a permission led activity. Regular visits to training, the stadium, attendance at sporting events, etc helps develop relationships -with the chaplain endeavouring to act with discernment and sensitivity.
Many chaplains also undertake “traditional” functions for their sporting organisations such as funerals, weddings and scattering of ashes ceremonies. In doing this they can provide clubs with an important link to engagement with the local community.
* Boyers, J. ( 2010) Sports club chaplaincy ministry, In: Perspectives in Sports Chaplaincy lectures, University of Gloucestershire, November 3rd