In this week’s feature, we took a moment to speak to Chairman of Kick London, Matt King.
How long have you been involved in Kick London, and what have your roles been?
I first got involved in Kick London when Tom Rutter and the founding Trustees presented on Kick London at a men’s breakfast at West Wickham and Shirley Baptist church about 13 years ago and I thought “what an amazing concept” – engaging with young people on their agenda – sport – and in doing sharing love and role modelling through the behaviours, messaging and attitudes of our coaches.
Around this time, there was a fatal stabbing of a young person in Shirley. The breakfast presentation and this violence motivated a number of us at the breakfast to launch Kick London in Croydon to respond to the needs within the borough. Shortly after that, a local trust provided us with 3 years of funding to employ Hans Sims, our first Kick London coach and development officer in Croydon. From there Kick London started to grow in partnership with Tom in Richmond.
Initially we ran Kick London in Croydon, as a branch of Kick London, before I became a Trustee of Kick London. Then in 2015 I become Chair following the sad and early passing of our previous Chair, Alan Latham. I love working with Joe Lowther (CEO), the other Trustees and the wider staff team to develop and build Kick London.
2. On a personal level, what are your favourite sports?
Having recently turned 40 (well over 5 years ago now!), I “enjoy” trying to keep fit. I genuinely enjoy cycling and I lead a cycling group at my church – 7.30am every Sunday morning if you would like to join us for a 20 mile cycle around the Surrey country. We have done a few special trips – cycling around the Isle of Wight, to Paris, to Brussels and regular trips down to Brighton.
As I passed the 40 years mark, I trained and ran the London Marathon raising money for a Kick London academy coach who died from bowel cancer before the age of 40. I watch most sports on TV and follow from a distance my local football team – Crystal Palace.
3. Why do you feel sport is important for the church?
Sport is loved by many young people and we know that it has holistic benefit for all us – physical, mental, emotional and social benefits. We also believe that it can help develop personal values and behaviours such as teamwork, putting each other first and forgiveness and therefore we have found it a great way to help young people consider and develop spiritually too.
Less than 15% of young people go to church once month but many more young people regularly engage in sport. So if we want to help young people consider faith and the spiritual aspect of life, we need to engage on their agenda and on their territory and not expect them to come to us. Therefore it is a great way to engage with young people and help them develop physically, socially, emotionally and as a Christian organisation, consider spiritual issues through the work of our coaches.
4. On a missional level, why do you feel Kick London have an important role to play in the church?
If 15% of young people come into our churches once a month to engage on the spiritual dimension of life – this means that 85% of young people do not.
Our passion at Kick London is to engage with the 85% of young people who may never have the opportunity to experience and understand the relevance of faith in their lives. Through the work, role modelling, love and care of our coaches, young people have the an opportunity to explore in a sensitive and relevant way Christian values and the role of faith in the way they live.
5. Do you believe Jesus would have played football? Who would he have supported?
Throughout the New Testament part of the bible, we see Jesus engaging relevantly with people. Wherever people were and in what ever they were doing, Jesus was there and engaging with them. Whether it was at a meal, at a wedding, at a well collecting water or helping people to fish. Jesus was there and involved. So I believe if Jesus was physically here today, I believe he would have strolled up to a football pitch or a netball court and engaged with people as they played. So yes, today he would have been at the sport’s fields/courts with people and I believe he would have got involved and joined in.
Who would he have supported? Probably not “Crystal Palace” – as a King – he tended not to conform to what was expected and King’s are expected to be in Palaces – so I don’t expect he would have been at “the Palace”! 😉
6. How has your involvement with Kick London impacted you personally?
Kick London keeps me active and fresh on the agenda which I believe was left to us all in the Bible through the Great Commandment “to love each other” and the Great Commission “to go and make disciples”.
That is at the heart of Kick London and it has kept me grappling with what that means today. It keeps me learning and trying to improve the relevance and effectiveness of the Great Commission and Commandment for young people in 2017 – we need to keep learning and improving.
7. How is Kick London different now to when you were first involved?
When we started we engaged with young people in one academy and a couple of schools. We now engage with over 7,000 young people every week, across many London Boroughs and Schools.
We see more young people’s lives being transformed – we saw that when we started too – but now we are able to do see it happen more often.
We have a team that has grown from 1 person (Tom) to over 35 employed staff and many volunteers.
We have grown the diversity of sports from football, to dance, to cricket and the whole PE curriculum.
We have grown our income from £30k per year to over £550k per year.
We were the smallest sports based Christian ministry in the UK and we are now in the top 2.
We have an excellent CEO in Joe Lowther who has built and leads a great team.
8. What do you believe is next in the Kick London adventure?
More of the same, but with a heart and a vision to do it better and bigger…
… better – improving the quality of what we are seeking to do and therefore improve the quantity and quality of transformational outcomes which makes a lasting difference to their lives and
… bigger – engaging with more young people, in more schools and other institutions, in more London Boroughs, and then across the UK and then Internationally.
The other challenge that we have own our hearts is diversity. What about engagement with those with special needs and disabilities? One of our aims is inclusivity, are we really 100% inclusive – we want to be.
9. What is your dream for the future of Kick London?
I would like to see a Kick London coach working in every school in the UK.
In England alone, that’s over 16,000 schools, so that will require over 5,000 coaches. That isn’t going to be achieved overnight but it’s dream that helps drive me on and build on 35 coaches and 7,000 young people – but we have a long way to go.
10. What have been some of the highlights during your involvement with Kick London?
I have enjoyed the hard work of day-to-day engagement over the years with Trustees and staff in the running and oversight of the organisation. And then every now and again, its great to sit back and reflect on some of the highlights, which have included…
The 10 young people who made a commitment of faith at a recent Kick London academy.
The “family” atmosphere and care amongst the staff team.
Participating in last year’s Kick London triathlon.
Seeing the belief that Trusts and funders continue to place in what Kick London is achieving and generating significant investment income for Kick London.
Reading the quotes and citations from head teachers, young people and coaches on the difference Kick London has made in schools and lives as part of our annual evaluation.