Caring for the individual, not their performance

Posted in Faith,Culture

In the Feb/March edition of New Times print version we published a shortened version of this article that focuses on the important role of Sports Chaplains in today’s sport-crazy society.


Sports chaplaincy in Australia only really started to get some recognition and traction in 1984 when Rev Mark Tronson was appointed as chaplain to Australia’s Test Cricket team. Since then, Sports Chaplaincy Australia has grown in leaps and bounds with a lot more professional and amateur sports clubs now being supported by a chaplain.

In a sports-crazy society such as Australia, where most games and competitions seem to have moved into Sunday morning slots, this makes a great deal of sense.

“What we found is that people aren’t going to church, they are going to sporting clubs. If we can be involved in sporting clubs, supporting and caring for those people and representing Jesus while we do it, then that’s a really good opportunity,” says Simon Johnson, chaplain for the Glenelg Tigers Football Club.


In the eleven years that Simon has been with the Glenelg Tigers, he has seen sports chaplaincy as a service offering grow across a wide range of sports, but especially so in the countryside.  The local sports club is the new place to build community whereas in the past it used to be the church.

“As awareness for sports chaplaincy services grows, the need for it seems to grow too,” he says.

Sometimes the value of a sports chaplain only becomes prevalent when tragedy strikes.

“Providing pastoral support to those who would never expect it is invaluable and there seems to be a real appreciation for the services we offer.”

Simon explains: “Because sports chaplaincy is not about trying to get the best possible performance out of athletes. It’s about making sure they are okay within themselves. It is pastoral care for the individual, not the end result. Also, a club is a community that encompasses all the coaching and support staff too, as well as their families, not just the individual athletes.”

The role of sports chaplains includes providing healthy strategies for club communities to care for players, coaches and members who can occasionally struggle to connect. When a club appoints a sports chaplain, they are acting proactively in providing care for everyone involved, for both the tough times and the good times ahead.

Sports chaplains are volunteers. In South Australia there are over 80 sports chaplains across a broad range of sports.

Simon explains that anyone can become a sports chaplain, as long as you have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ, a heart for people and are committed to your local church. “We do believe that a spiritual grounding as provided by a congregation of faith is essential.”


Training, which is offered through Sports Chaplaincy Australia, is not necessary to start with but is highly recommended if a Chaplaincy role is undertaken. The organisation is seeking to train as many men and women as possible to place with sporting communities with a need for chaplaincy.

If you are interested in becoming a sports chaplain, or would like more information about this service, please get in contact with Simon or Roger Johnson on 0429 356 601 or There is also more information on the Sports Chaplaincy Australia’s website.


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