Who are you, where are you from, how long have you been involved with Kick London, and what is your role?
I’m John Dutton, from Croydon, and I have been a Trustee of Kick London since August 2008.
What are your favourite sports, teams, affiliations, and such like?
I enjoy watching and trying to play (mostly unsuccessful) many sports, but my favourites are football and golf.
I played football for my school old boys’ club from 16 until I had to pack up with a knee injury at 28. Fortunately, I was able to resume work kick-about football in my mid-30’s and continued until I was 50 and, during that time, had the joy of playing in competitive games with both of my sons when they were teenagers. My sons’ football became my greatest passion and I watched them play for whichever team they joined.
In about 2006, my younger son Andy joined his church team (New Life FC) and having watched him play virtually every week, I was invited to assist the team manager and, the next season, become the Team Manager of the Reserves. I was awful at it and got the team relegated! However, the following season, I swapped roles and became the Club Secretary. I still perform the same role today nearly 10 years later and my involvement with the New Life football club is a central and absolutely critical part of my Christian testimony. However, this is an entirely separate story which I can tell another day if the Editor is interested.
New Life FC 2011 – How many Kick London staff members (past and present) can you spot?
My second greatest football passion is supporting West Ham United and this started on 30th July 1966 – the day England won the World Cup final. I was 10 years old and besotted with Moore, Hurst and Peters who played such pivotal roles in England beating West Germany. Contrary to common belief, West Ham fans don’t really think that West Ham won the World Cup, but it is true that we are immensely proud of the role our three stars played in it.
Golf is my other sporting love. When I stopped playing football at 28, I took up golf and still play over 30 years later. When I retired in April last year, I was really blessed when my wife agreed that I should give myself a retirement present by joining The Addington golf club. This is such a privilege – a glorious place to wonder at the beauty of God’s Creation – even if it hasn’t done much to improve my handicap.
How did you come to be a part of the Kick London family?
I’m sorry, but my answers all seem to be so lengthy. I was attending an end of season awards service for the league that New Life FC play in, and there was a presentation by a guy from Ambassadors in Sport and he spoke about students doing internships or gap year placements. At the time, Andy was at Uni and it seemed like something he might be interested in so I filed it away in the back of my mind for another time. A little while later, I saw an article in the local paper about Kick London and it seemed very similar to what had interested me about Ambassadors. To cut a long story short, Andy started doing voluntary work for Kick while he was still at Uni and my interest in the organisation grew from there. Subsequently, I read or heard that Kick London were looking to recruit new trustees, so I applied in May 2008 and was appointed in August 2008.
What has been your best highlight while working for Kick London?
I think every testimony I read of a young person’s life transformed by God’s love through sport as a result of Kick London engaging with them is the best highlight, until the next one, and the next, and the next. Each one literally brings tears to my eyes. What a privilege to be associated with the incredible, amazing work that God is using our staff to do!
In addition, knowing that my own son is contributing to the ever-growing library of testimonies is a tremendous ‘highlight’ for me. I pray that God will forgive me the sin of being proud of him; but I’m immensely proud of all our staff and the organisation as a whole.
What is the funniest thing a child has ever said to you while working for Kick London?
“Has there been a story of a “Transformed Life” that has really impacted you?” A short answer at last … I don’t get involved with the young people directly so don’t have an answer for this.
As a Christian, how does Kick London fit in with your personal missional heart? Why is Kick London important for the church?
As I mentioned previously, New Life football club is a major part of my Christian testimony (and also Andy’s but that’s his testimony to tell) and I know that God used sport to transform my life. So Kick London’s whole ethos really resonates with my personal experience and I just love, appreciate and support every aspect of Kick London’s approach. I couldn’t devise a better operating model if I was given a blank sheet of paper now. And the fact that we have diversified to embrace so many sports makes it even better.
Do you think Jesus have engaged with sport? What would his favourite sport been? Who would he have supported?
As a carpenter, Jesus was a very fit man and I’m sure he would have engaged in the sports of the day. He certainly walked many miles and I expect he could have run a long way. I don’t want to be blasphemous or irreverent, but I think Jesus would have had trouble swimming! (Editor’s note: He never needed to swim; he’d just walk on water!) He would definitely have been a West Ham supporter because he had a heart for the lost, the down-trodden, oppressed and hopeless.
What is your personal sporting highlight, either for you or the team/person you support?
Although I love sport, I have achieved very little and most of the highlights have been what my sons have achieved. Both have won, and scored goals in, cup finals for the club that I am the secretary of, so those occasions were pretty special. Golf is a very individual sport, and single shots can be exceptional personal highlights, but 18 inches is as close as I’ve come to a hole in one. I suppose my best ever round of 82 at Coulsdon Manor was a highlight but that was years ago – breaking 100 at The Addington is my current ambition and I’m getting close. One day next Spring it will all come together and I’ll achieve it.
What is the most exciting thing that could happen in a regular working day that would be a highlight of your year?
The testimony’s the Trustees receive about young lives transformed are always the highlight. And hearing about dozens of young people responding to the ‘altar call’ during the annual Kick London tournament is always a tremendous thrill.