The success of the England women’s team has been a major factor in football becoming one of the fastest growing female sports in the country. The rise in popularity has been made stronger by the team’s current progress at the Women’s World Cup.
The Women's World Cup is a unique cultural moment
The football pitch is fast becoming a place for female friendships and close community as well as opportunities to share the gospel.
KICK have been operating in sports ministry for over two decades, but the unique cultural moment of the Women’s World Cup has enabled them to provide sports coaching and mentoring to young women as well as the opportunity to point them towards Jesus.
They have done this by serving schools and delivering sports coaching that is interwoven with Christian values and teaching, mentoring and chaplaincy.
Like many sports ministries, they’ve seen an exponential growth in the number of girls who’re interested in playing as a result of the Women’s World Cup. KICK have also seen lots of girls who are interested in their mentorship programme and finding out more about Jesus.
KICK’s approach is to utilise the power of experienced coaches, many of whom are ex-professionals. These coaches have been players in the top leagues and travelled the world playing football. So, when it comes to mentorship and discussing personal issues they are in a great position to share their life experience.
Sharing life and Jesus
Zoe Cross is one of these coaches. She’s been with KICK for the last three years. Before joining Zoe was an England and Chelsea footballer. Representing her country and being on the books of one of the top teams in the Women’s Super League, things could have hardly been better. Sadly, Zoe’s career was cut short due to persistent injury problems, and she had to make the difficult decision to retire from the game in her early twenties.
Using her footballing experience, and motivated by her love for Jesus, Zoe chose to enter sports ministry and help young people discover God. The icing on the cake was that she could do all that while teaching kids how to play football.
She quickly brought her knowledge and expertise to the after-school programmes which KICK ran for young people living in challenging social situations. Because of her experience and down-to-earth approach, she has been able to instil a much-needed level of confidence in the children she has worked with and ultimately point them towards Jesus.
Children like Cassady. Cassady was referred to KICK following a series of behavioural incidents. This presented a unique opportunity to speak truth and love into this young girl’s life. KICK coaches were able to affirm her value in the world and invest in her God-given potential. They encouraged Cassady to engage with the after-school football club and as a result she is now in a more stable and safe position. The coaches are proud of the ongoing impact they’re having on Cassady’s life and are praying that she will one day come to know Jesus.
Zoe and Cassady’s stories are just two of the amazing things that are happening within local schools. Another coach running the schools programme recently commented:
“After doing my assembly on forgiveness and sharing some of my own stories along with the gospel message of Jesus, a Year 3 girl came up to me overwhelmed with joy and laughter saying, ‘I didn’t know Jesus rose from the dead;, I feel amazed and wonderful!’’.
With schools now closed for the holidays, KICK is capitalising on the success of the English team at the Women’s World Cup in a different way. They are running a series of KICK Camps that are designed to work with local churches and introduce young people to football with an opportunity to hear a clearly presented gospel message.
In football there will always be game-changing moments that can alter the course of the match. KICK firmly believes that there will also always be life-changing gospel moments in the course of a young person’s life, and they want to be there when they happen.
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