Attention: Please take a moment to consider our terms and conditions before posting.

Chaplains at football clubs

Interesting article in todays Times about this. I did not realise Chris Powell was such a big fan of this idea. I must say I am not comfortable with it and much prefer Tottenham's stance.

image

Baker watches Charlton Athletic practise Times photographer,Graham Morris

The Church is in crisis. Congregations are collapsing, scandals abound, but there is one place where religion is flourishing. In sport. As the nation celebrates the Easter weekend, there are 254 sports chaplains at work in the UK.

A football manager’s wish list might include a transfer budget, talented players, a trustworthy assistant and an effective scouting network. But increasingly it also includes the appointment of a chaplain. Chris Powell, the manager of Charlton Athletic, says that his chaplain is the heartbeat of his npower Championship club and he would not want to manage without one.

“If a club doesn’t have a chaplain, they are missing the point,” Powell says.

We are in his office after a training session in the bitter cold, when the manager of a club who could yet be drawn into a relegation battle might be expected to have little time for questions of faith. But Powell is articulate and passionate about what club chaplains offer.

“Why not have someone who will help the club grow, help players individually, be part of the support network?” he says. “Someone who has a well-rounded view on life is a vital part, the heartbeat of the club for me.

“Players need a voice, someone with empathy away from the football side. They hear me demanding more. I’m their boss and they understand that, but these guys might see something that means they need to talk. They won’t come to me with a question about religion or bereavement. They have lives to lead away from football and can we help them? Yes. Not everyone will think that way but if I ever have to go to another club, I would demand a chaplain ASAP.”

Chaplaincy in sport is a rapidly expanding phenomenon but, as Powell says, not everyone buys into the concept. Coaches dislike interference, club owners fear Bible bashers. At Tottenham Hotspur, for example, the players have access to the club’s various external religious contacts, but the club regard religion as a private matter and deem it inappropriate to appoint a chaplain representing one faith.

Divine intervention

• The Premier League, Football League Trust, Professional Footballers’ Association and British horse racing, through Racing Welfare, provide £100,000 of funding to Sports Chaplaincy UK (SCUK). All chaplains in other sports rely on donations.

• Of the 92 Football League clubs in England, 66 have access to at least one chaplain. Those Premier League clubs who have not appointed a chaplain via SCUK are: Arsenal, Tottenham Hotspur, Chelsea, West Bromwich Albion, Wigan Athletic and Stoke City.

• All club chaplains are part-time volunteers except at Bolton Wanderers, where Phil Mason works as a full-time salaried chaplain.

• A degree in sports chaplaincy is available from the University of Gloucestershire.

• The American form of sports chaplaincy is about encouraging players to be open about their faith. “I think that’s a dangerous approach,” Richard Gamble, the SCUK chief executive, says, “because you can present the gospel about being about success.”
«13

Comments

  • I'm not at all comfortable with it either. Religion and football do not mix.
  • Most footballers I know are absolute heathens .. but seriously: 'whatever gets you thru your life is alright'
  • Here is another extract from the article.

    Four months into Reverend Matt Baker’s chaplaincy at Charlton Athletic, 13 years ago, Pierre Bolangi, a 17-year-old youth player, drowned in an accident at an army training centre in Aldershot. It made Baker realise that everyone connected to the club and the community needed a chaplain.

    Baker works full time as pastoral support director for English Football as well as acting as Charlton’s chaplain. “It’s really important the players know who Matt is,” Chris Powell, the Charlton manager, says, “so that if they have an issue they don’t have to speak to the manager.

    “I don’t think there’s many chaplains qualified to deal with an on-pitch issue. But what if the player is dropped, he might think how does he handle that? The chaplain’s role could be to keep his spirits up, tell him he’s seen him play.”

    When Leon McKenzie attempted to take his life three years ago while playing for Charlton, Baker, in the days that followed, was the only person at the club he told about the depths of his depression. “Sometimes people will not tell you everything,” Powell says. “I haven’t spoken to Leon about it but people sometimes think they are alone.”
  • As an atheist I see no place for religion in sport or anything else, but if players/staff have someone they feel they can chat too in confidence without fear of what they say being reported to the club then it has to be a good thing. The suicide of Gary Speed highlighted an inconvenient truth that for many players there is a fine line between being a professional with a career and having that livelihood suddenly terminated either through injury or a selectorial whim.
  • I'm with bfr. Well apart from being an atheist. Sounds more like a counselling role.

    Lots of uncomfortable people about on this Good Friday.
  • Why do sports firms need chaplains and not other places of work ? No chaplain in any company I have ever worked for.
  • Surprised tbh. Imagine he is a figure of some humour from majority of the staff. I'm sure he's a very decent man and after all he does support Charlton.
  • PL54 said:

    Why do sports firms need chaplains and not other places of work ? No chaplain in any company I have ever worked for.

    Many organisations these days have mentors - who pretty much do the same thing, giving junior members of staff someone to chat to who isn't their line manager.

  • Not a believer myself, but it is ignorant to condemn it. When I've met him he's seemed a good man and certainly not the type that would push his beliefs on others. No harm in offering young players a decent moral grounding. What would people prefer? TOWIE, cash and alcohol?
  • Why is it ok for christian footballers to display messages about their belief in god on their undershirts but political stuff can't be?
  • Sponsored links:


  • I sat next to him and his brother in the East for a couple of seasons, didnt know he was a minister untill I asked what he did for a living. He never pushed his beliefs, just enjoyed the game in fact he was was a joy to sit next to with his wit and knowledge of the game
  • Not a believer myself, but it is ignorant to condemn it. When I've met him he's seemed a good man and certainly not the type that would push his beliefs on others. No harm in offering young players a decent moral grounding. What would people prefer? TOWIE, cash and alcohol?

    Why is it any more ignorant to condemn it than to support it? And why do we need some form a chaplaincy to give players a decent moral grounding? And whose morals anyway? Why do people think that the church has anything in the slightest to do with "decent morality"?

    I have no reason to think that Matt Baker is not a decent human being. He may well be a very good person to have around the club, but that doesn't mean that there's a role for a chaplain as such. If he's good on his own terms, let him be some sort of mentor or counsellor, but that should be because he's got the right skills not because he's got invisible friends in high places.


  • Matt is not a figure of fun at all from what I see, I know in the past he has made himself available for players and staff before a game for a quiet moment or two, he is also freely available to everyone at the club should they want it, he does not push his beliefs, but is about the place if needed, if i had any issues he is the one person I would trust, I see nothing wrong with having a chaplain at all, despite the fact I am not a religious person.
  • Stig said:

    Not a believer myself, but it is ignorant to condemn it. When I've met him he's seemed a good man and certainly not the type that would push his beliefs on others. No harm in offering young players a decent moral grounding. What would people prefer? TOWIE, cash and alcohol?

    Why is it any more ignorant to condemn it than to support it? And why do we need some form a chaplaincy to give players a decent moral grounding? And whose morals anyway? Why do people think that the church has anything in the slightest to do with "decent morality"?

    I have no reason to think that Matt Baker is not a decent human being. He may well be a very good person to have around the club, but that doesn't mean that there's a role for a chaplain as such. If he's good on his own terms, let him be some sort of mentor or counsellor, but that should be because he's got the right skills not because he's got invisible friends in high places.


    That Stig is a great post.
  • Stig said:

    Not a believer myself, but it is ignorant to condemn it. When I've met him he's seemed a good man and certainly not the type that would push his beliefs on others. No harm in offering young players a decent moral grounding. What would people prefer? TOWIE, cash and alcohol?

    because he's got invisible friends in high places.
    So did Mr Cash employ him then?

  • Very good Addickted :-)
  • We need some divine intervention, well done CP - hope it brings a win tomorrow.
  • edited March 2013
    Not going to get into the moral argument, but the fact is that these guys are in many many football clubs, and rugby clubs, and at the races etc. and there's a very good reason for that: they do good there. You may have your own views on whether religion and football should mix, but they're pretty irrelevant because that's not what's happening. Did you guys even read the article?

    "Chris Powell, the manager of Charlton Athletic, says that his chaplain is the heartbeat of his npower Championship club and he would not want to manage without one. 'Why not have someone who will help the club grow, help players individually, be part of the support network?' he says. 'Someone who has a well-rounded view on life is a vital part, the heartbeat of the club for me.' "

    They do what they do because they care about the well-being of people in what can be very strange worlds, and they provide something that no-one else provides. In many cases that's simply an ear, empathy, an opportunity to talk things through, an opportunity to vent. Chaplains are not injecting morality or religion into football, they're simply acting on their faith, and the few I've met have all been remarkably grounded and down to earth to boot. They're not proselytising, they're making themselves available to people.

    Matt Baker's involvement at the club goes further than that, incidentally. He's been our chaplain for what, 13, 14 years now? He's Charlton Club chairman, involved in the Community work, and leads many a funeral of Charlton supporters we've lost. And he's a season ticket holder at the club since the 80s, including going to Selhurst.

    It's easy to stand at a distance and criticise on some spurious anti-religion grounds, but most pro football clubs have a chaplain because they are beneficial to their club. Tottenham are a remarkable exception and, I understand, is a position they've taken since Glenn Hoddle and his weird views on religion reigned at the lane.

    And whilst the Premier and Football Leagues put some money in, the clubs don't generally pay a penny for their Chaplain's time or expenses. Seems like a no-lose situation to me.
  • PeteF said:

    Matt is not a figure of fun at all from what I see, I know in the past he has made himself available for players and staff before a game for a quiet moment or two, he is also freely available to everyone at the club should they want it, he does not push his beliefs, but is about the place if needed, if i had any issues he is the one person I would trust, I see nothing wrong with having a chaplain at all, despite the fact I am not a religious person.

    My thoughts exactly.
  • @rikofold

    I know football clubs are not normal businesses but if as you say in your opening "they do good" then real business would be falling over to Avail themselves of such a free way of " doing good" and getting an edge ?
  • Sponsored links:


  • PL54 said:

    Why do sports firms need chaplains and not other places of work ? No chaplain in any company I have ever worked for.

    Football is a strange world.
  • So is religion
  • rikofold said:

    PL54 said:

    Why do sports firms need chaplains and not other places of work ? No chaplain in any company I have ever worked for.

    Football is a strange world.
    Almost all NHS hospitals have chaplains, rabbis, mullahs, priests etc. They do a good job, chatting to lonely patients who have no visitors, giving solace to the bereaved, comfort to the dying and so forth. Do not be too dismissive of the role played by 'religion' in modern society. Religious people are often very compassionate and helpful when help and compassion are needed and no other help is at hand.
  • Non religious people are also often very compassionate and helpful when help and compassion are needed and no other help is at hand.
  • Non religious people are also often very compassionate and helpful when help and compassion are needed and no other help is at hand.

    There are two issues here, if the chaplain is pushing a religion/his religious perspective then it would be wrong on many grounds, but if he can be someone that a footballer can chat to and discuss any issues troubling him then it can only help. Anyone who has played sport - even at grass roots level will know how some people get so wound up with nerves to the point where they don't perform anywhere near their ability.

    Look at the players who have drink/drug/gambling problems, or are uprooted from their families or suffer mental knock backs as a result of niggling injuries. I know the kneejerk reaction is that they are well paid professionals and should deal with it etc etc, but clearly some players need the support that a non-judgmental ear can offer more than others. If it helps the club and allows the players to perform better than so much the better.

    For young players in particular being away from home - sometimes a long way from home can create real problems, having someone who calls the player in his identikit hotel or lodgings might just help him settle in.
  • rikofold said:

    PL54 said:

    Why do sports firms need chaplains and not other places of work ? No chaplain in any company I have ever worked for.

    Football is a strange world.
    Almost all NHS hospitals have chaplains, rabbis, mullahs, priests etc. They do a good job, chatting to lonely patients who have no visitors, giving solace to the bereaved, comfort to the dying and so forth. Do not be too dismissive of the role played by 'religion' in modern society. Religious people are often very compassionate and helpful when help and compassion are needed and no other help is at hand.
    Spot on
  • The armed forces also have chaplains.
  • Saga Lout said:

    The armed forces also have chaplains.

    never is a man more religious than when his life is in potential danger
  • Non religious people are also often very compassionate and helpful when help and compassion are needed and no other help is at hand.

    There are two issues here, if the chaplain is pushing a religion/his religious perspective then it would be wrong on many grounds, but if he can be someone that a footballer can chat to and discuss any issues troubling him then it can only help. Anyone who has played sport - even at grass roots level will know how some people get so wound up with nerves to the point where they don't perform anywhere near their ability.

    Look at the players who have drink/drug/gambling problems, or are uprooted from their families or suffer mental knock backs as a result of niggling injuries. I know the kneejerk reaction is that they are well paid professionals and should deal with it etc etc, but clearly some players need the support that a non-judgmental ear can offer more than others. If it helps the club and allows the players to perform better than so much the better.

    For young players in particular being away from home - sometimes a long way from home can create real problems, having someone who calls the player in his identikit hotel or lodgings might just help him settle in.
    I would have thought being called chaplain is pushing religion but there you go.
  • edited March 2013
    iainment said:

    Non religious people are also often very compassionate and helpful when help and compassion are needed and no other help is at hand.

    There are two issues here, if the chaplain is pushing a religion/his religious perspective then it would be wrong on many grounds, but if he can be someone that a footballer can chat to and discuss any issues troubling him then it can only help. Anyone who has played sport - even at grass roots level will know how some people get so wound up with nerves to the point where they don't perform anywhere near their ability.

    Look at the players who have drink/drug/gambling problems, or are uprooted from their families or suffer mental knock backs as a result of niggling injuries. I know the kneejerk reaction is that they are well paid professionals and should deal with it etc etc, but clearly some players need the support that a non-judgmental ear can offer more than others. If it helps the club and allows the players to perform better than so much the better.

    For young players in particular being away from home - sometimes a long way from home can create real problems, having someone who calls the player in his identikit hotel or lodgings might just help him settle in.
    I would have thought being called chaplain is pushing religion but there you go.

    Anyone else wear a dog collar to work?
    image
Sign In or Register to comment.

Roland Out!