Don’t Waste Your Life

James 4:14 “What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes.”

What chilling viewing it was watching the news on Tuesday night. Footage of a team, having won a semi-final. They were dancing, cheering, spraying each other with water, ecstatic that they had reached the final of the Copa Sudamerica. These images were followed by a photo of the whole team, standing at the foot of the steps to board a plane, on their way to the final. And after that, the pictures of the crash, followed by another picture of the empty locker-room, only inhabited by those injured or suspended, and unable to travel. The football world stood still.

It really got me thinking about those individual lives. Most of them young men, in the prime of fitness, at the foot of the ladder of their ambitions. Each of them sons, fathers, husbands. They had so much to offer the world. Each of them now gone.

James reminds us in his epistle, that life is a mist. That you can be here one moment, and gone the next. As frank as this blog has started, it should be a challenge to us, rather than to scare us. I hope I haven’t written insensitively, and please forgive me if I have.

Why is the tradgey of the Chapecoenese football team a challenge to us personally though? For me, it is a challenge about how I spend the days of my life. How I use my fitness. How I use my talents and my gifts. How I am able to personally impact the world and the people I meet each day.

Much of my working week, currently, is speaking to young men and women, on the first steps of their journey of life. And while they are young and inexperienced, it would also be fair to say that they (at times) are making some poor choices. Perhaps they have an apathy to life, perhaps they have a behavioural issue, some kick against authority, others have no real interest in succeeding. All of these things break my heart. A young person, with the world at their feet, with no desire to meet their potential or succeed.

The opportunity I have, as a sports minister, is to use my God-given health, fitness and (limited) talent, to meet these kids on their terms, and impact their lives, even if it’s just kicking a ball around with them and showing them that I care.

Each of us has potential. Each of us has a gift. Each of us can be successful even in the smallest of tasks (and it is often the smallest of tasks which are the most vital). Some of our young people don’t believe in themselves, and if our gift is to encourage, but we fail to encourage that young person, then we’ve wasted our potential and wasted our gift. If you have a gift in sport, or dance, or singing, or art, and you can connect with a disaffected young person, but hide your gift, then you have wasted an opportunity, both for yourself, and that young person.

The challenge to you, the reader, is that you are alive. In this moment right now, you could use your gift to impact the world. Don’t waste your gift. Don’t waste your life.

The Importance Of Relationships

“Ah, I don’t like Mr Smith, bruv, he’s a ****!”

What a powerful line to start a blog on! However, this is near enough a direct quote from a mentoring session I recently had *. My response, to this line, was a mere smile. The young man immediately apologised “Oh, sorry, sir! I shouldn’t have said that!” My response, “Don’t worry, you carry on. Say how you feel”.

It is perhaps controversial that, in an education based setting, I didn’t immediately rebuke the young man’s language. Nor did I tell him off for his blatant lack of respect for a senior member of staff. However, in that moment, I knew that the young man in question trusted me enough to say exactly how he felt, using language he would use around his closest friends and family. I had gone beyond being a figure of authority, or even a teacher to this young man. He truly sensed the trust that had built in the relationship, and felt free to speak his mind. In its own right, this was powerful moment. **

A quote that has been doing the rounds in the Kick London office’s recently is “They will never care about what you know, until they know you care”. I think if we take just a moment to ponder just how profound this statement is, it can truly take us to a place of understanding firstly, the importance of using sport in mission, and secondly, the impact we can have on a young person’s life once a relationship has been built.

At Kick London, we have a heart for allowing young people to access the saving message of the Gospel. The message we want to share is that God loves you so much, that He gave the world Jesus. That would go down the category of “What we know”.

If the quote above is to be believed, young people will never access that message from any one of us until they understand that we care about them. As coaches, mentors, youth workers, volunteers (and any other job role that may put you in the path of a young person), we can show our care for that young person by simply engaging in their interests (chiefly, football), or taking time to get to know what’s going on in their life. I don’t have a statistic to back this up, but I believe that young people truly know you care about them when you do something as simple as remembering their name!

Jesus himself was all about relationships. Sure, he did the mega-preach to thousands at times, but in the poignant moments of his ministry, Jesus would sit, eat dinner with people, go to their houses, and invest time in the individual. He would even call them friends. Jesus knew that shouting a message, without a relationship, would go no further than noise into the wind. However, a message shared with love, to a person who knew Jesus cared for them, would stand the test of time.

If sport can be the thing that gets a young person to engage with you, and you have an opportunity to show them that you care for them, you stand far more chance of sharing a life changing message with them; either behavioural or spiritual, but none the less, transformational.

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Bobby Moore and Pele, a relationship built on mutual respect.

* The word used is unimportant, and of course, the teacher’s name has been changed.

** It is worth noting that with further discussion, the student’s attitude to the member of staff was addressed, as is the appropriate structure with a behavioural intervention/mentoring session. However, the student may not have respected my opinion, or behavioural intervention if he didn’t trust or respect me.

Kick London at the Waltham Forest YFC Tournament

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  Saturday, 18th June, and the scene was set for one of the most monumental triumphs in tournament football. No, I am not discussing the European Championships; I am talking about Kick London’s appearance at that Waltham Forest YFC charity 5 a-side tournament!

Kick London went to the tournament under the guise of “Christal Palace”, a humourous play on words, if we don’t mind saying so ourselves! The team comprised of Andy Dutton between the sticks, Ben Lee (husband of office manager Becci) and Jack Taylor taking on defensive duties, a midfield of Alastair Park, Josh Chaproniere and Robbie Smart, and Zuko Akwuba heading up the attacks.

Christal Palace were drawn into Pool B, which turned out to be a physical and strong group, with many talented footballers in it. The format of the tournament dictated that the top two teams would enter the trophy knockout, and the third and fourth placed teams would be entered into the shield knockout, with the fifth placed team getting the early bus home.

Christal Palace were to play the pool opener, against the team that would eventually finish third in the group. Christal Palace struck early, taking the lead through Zuko’s goal. A moment later though, a well hit shot from a tight angle beat Andy at the near post to make it 1-1. Despite some late pressure, Christal Palace were unable to gain a second goal, and the game finished as an admirable draw.

In the second game, Christal Palace were playing the team that ultimately finished 5th in the group, and went 1-0 up within 5 seconds through some slick play between Zuko and Jack, one-twoing their way through the opposition before Jack slammed home the finish. A second quickly followed from Zuko to make it 2-0.  Christal Palace clearly got a little bit ahead of themselves, because very quickly ended up 3-2 down, before Zuko rattled in a bullet to make it 3-3, drawing a game that should have been a win.

In the next game, Christal Palace played the eventual group winners. Dominating the early stages, Christal Palace took the lead, fully taking advantage of there being no over head height rule, as Josh nodded in a parried shot by the keeper. Christal Palace were then pegged back to 1-1 before the opposition “scored” a very controversial winner. The ball struck the far post and came out at an angle that the laws of physics would deem it impossible to have crossed the line, yet the referee gave goal anyway and then blew the full time whistle.

In their final group game, Christal Palace took on the eventual group runners up, losing 2-0 in a fiery affair which had several late tackles and flash points, with the inconsistent refereeing not helping the situation. Less said about this game the better!

Bottom of the group, and with a goal difference of -3, Christal Palace were hoping on the team they played second (drawing 3-3 with) to have a worse goal difference than them, and they confirmed this by being smashed 5-0 in the final game of the group stage.

Christal Palace finished 4th in the group, by virtue of their superior (lol) goal difference, and thus entered into the shield knockout tournament.

The Quarter-final was drawn, and Christal Palace were pitted against “Black All-Stars”. Christal Palace started off well, peppering the opposition goal with shots, but their keeper making a lot of decent saves. Then, seemingly out of nothing, a miss-hit back pass let the All-Stars go 1-0 up. Christal Palace then rallied, hitting the All-Stars with a quick two goals from Josh and Robbie, to make it 2-1. The All-Stars fought back, replying with two goals of their own to make it 3-2. Christal Palace then equalised for 3-3 through a long range, deflected drive from Ben, before Christal Palace had their moment of the day.

With the opposition on the attack, Ben hit the All Stars striker with a tackle so hard that the player literally flipped over his back and landed in a heap on the floor (think Scott Parker vs Joe Cole, Newcastle vs Chelsea. YouTube it if you haven’t seen it!) He laid the ball off to Zuko who played a perfectly weighted pass into the path of Jack’s forward run, who smashed it in first time to make it 4-3. A real classic of a quarter final that neither side deserved to lose, the disappointment of the Black All-Stars at the final whistle was evident.

In the semi final, Christal Palace ended up playing a familiar foe, the side from our opening game, and again drew 1-1. This time, Christal Palace went a goal down, but pegging them back later on in the game with a smartly taken goal by Zuko. The match went straight to penalties, with the opposition taking first and scoring, sending Andy the wrong way. Goalkeeper Andy then stepped up and slotted low to the keepers left. The opposition stepped up to their next penalty, placing to Andy’s right, who read the player and got down low to tip it wide. Josh stepped up next for Christal Palace, and powered his penalty in, to the keeper right. Their final penalty was hit high wide and handsome (even though Andy had guessed the right way), which meant Christal Palace were through to the shield final.

The unfortunate thing was, as the tournament had over-run, the opposition finalists wanted to play immediately. Christal Palace had no time for a breather, and within a few moments, the final was on!

The opposition in the final were physical and powerful (without being aggressive), and it was a good natured final, in which they went 2-0 up from two rasping shots. Christal Palace then had a goal ruled out, the ref calling play on (and Christal Palace doing just that) while the opposition were mid-substitution, and had therefore stopped. Christal Palace graciously retook the keepers ball, and although thy got one goal back through Robbie, they struggled to get a second, despite a lot of late pressure. Tired or not, the better team won the final, and Christal Palace came out as Shield runners-up.

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We had a really good day, and it was a time of team bonding, banter, and some quality football and goals (at times!)

We as a team would like to thank Ransome for organising the tournament, and we hope to compete again next year!

Andy Dutton – Sports Coach

 

 

Euro 2016 Week One Review

We’re one week into the European Championships, and have had a chance to see each of the team’s perform in their opening games. We asked our friends, followers, fans and staff to have their say on the Championships so far!

Which team or player has been a surprise package this tournament?

The collective fan base have spoken, with Iceland’s heroic performance against Portugal earning them the plaudits. Whether they can escape the group remains to be seen, but on Tuesday night’s showing, a lot of people seem to have reason for optimism!

Many have also suggested Italy as a surprise package. While they may not have the star names of many a tournament in recent history, they perform well in tournaments, and their solid defence is something which may set them apart the longer the tournament goes on. A stellar defensive display against Belgium on Monday night proved many of the doubters wrong, and Italy may be a dark horse for the punters!

Which team or player has shockingly under-performed?

“Belgium, for a team with such a strong set of individuals, haven’t seemed to worked it out as a team yet” Former staff coach, Jordan Record, via Facebook

“Ronaldo under-performed” Kick London Staff coach, Alastair Park

“Kane was the biggest disappointment” – Kick London Quality Manager,  Hans Sims

How do you feel England (or any of the other home nations) have done in their openers?

“England need to step up, Vardy needs to be given a chance against an aging Ashley Williams” – Kick London Staff coach, Robbie Smart

“I was quite (vocally) disappointed with England. Russia were awful, and we were only marginally better. We need to be more ruthless, and Roy’s negative substitutions put us under pressure, when a positive substitution could have stretched the game and seen us home. A win against Wales is now vital” – Kick London Staff coach, Andy Dutton

“Andy Dutton’s pessimism is England’s biggest issue, we will never win anything without the true support behind us!” – Kick London Staff coach, Robbie Smart

“Forza Italia!” – Kick London Staff coach, Andy Dutton

What was your pick of the goals from the first round of fixtures?

According to our fans and friends, Modric’s spectacular yet controlled volley seems to be the popular favourite. We can’t help but feel that the keeper should be doing far better with it though! Payet’s last gasp winner against Romania is also a popular favourite!

How will England, Wales, Northern Ireland and Republic of Ireland get on in the following rounds?

“England and Wales to go through, and both Ireland’s to be knocked out in the group stages” – Former Kick London coach, Jordan Record, via Facebook

“England will be knocked out in the group stage, quote me on it!” Kick London Staff coach, Jack Taylor

“Unless England get Sturridge on the field, we are out!” – Kick London Quality manager, Hans Sims

“Beat Wales and just like in Euro 96 when we started with a draw and then beat a home nation to build momentum” – Kick London CEO, Joe Lowther

How would you adapt the England team for the upcoming games against Wales and Slovakia?

“Vardy in for Sterling” – @jamesacraig via Twitter

“Bring Sturridge in for Kane, and whatever Roy does, he should not bring on Milner!” Former Kick London Coach, Jordan Record, via Facebook.

“I’d bring Henderson in, to allow Alli and Rooney to venture forwards more” – Kick London Sessional Coach, Josh Chaproniere

Who is going to win Euro 2016?!

“France on home soil, Italy as dark horses, plus no-one is talking about Spain who are full of winners!” – Kick London CEO, Joe Lowther

“I’m going to be brave and stick my neck on the line for my in-laws nation, Italy! Every success needs a stable base, and that defence looks unshakable!” Kick London Staff coach, Andy Dutton

“Italy or Germany will win the tournament” – Kick London Sessional Coach, Zuko Akwuba

Tell us your crazy, off-beat prediction for the upcoming games!

“Hungary will make the quarter finals” – Former Kick London coach, Andrew Dowey, @Dowzario via Twitter

“I’m backing the Republic of Ireland to take three points off Belgium on Saturday” – Jacob Booth, via Facebook

“Croatia will cause an upset” – Kick London CEO, Joe Lowther

“Belgium will fail to make it out of the group. All four home nations will make it into the round of 16. Harry Kane will assist a goal from a corner. Portugal will go out in the group stage and Ronaldo will cry!” – Kick London Staff coach, Andy Dutton

“England will exit the tournament at the group stage” – Kick London sessional coach, Zuko Akwubatickets EURO2016-OMB-PES2016_1_87153062_euro_draw_preview

Celebrate Success and Ruthless with Failure?

I am delighted to see Leicester win the league as I am sure most of us are. They are worthy champions having had a strong spine, a creative spark and a lethal goalscorer. Fair play. I would say that this title race has lacked real exerted pressure. It feels more like Leicester have won at a canter and it is fitting that they win with Spurs capitulating after being 2-0 up on Chelsea. Some might cynically say have they won it or have others fallen away?

All in all it’s the managers who will come into the spot light as is our cut throat pantomime culture. Ranieri is sacked as manager of Greece last year only 4 months after losing to the Faroe Islands and then leads a 5,000-1 team to win the Premier League. He inherited a strong core from Nigel Pearson’s side, which won the Championship in 2013-14 and who deceptively won 7 of their last 9 games last season. But he has applied the finishing touches and deserves the credit.

Whilst we exalt Ranieri, Pochetino and Klopp with a fit of aspiration, we crush and boo LVG, Martinez and Wenger. Hero and villain.  Is this right? How does God wants us to live? How does God want us to treat our leaders? Who is our example of leadership? How did he handle rejection? Can he empathise with these managers? Would we have treated him in the same way as crowds did?

Jesus, our ultimate example of leadership, led with humility. As we see from Philippians 2 – although He was God, he did not consider equality with God something to be grasped – something I dare say we all often personally struggle to resolve in our own lives each day. Jesus lived out a life of faithfulness to his followers, in humility to his enemies and provided direction to his disciples. The ultimate manager. Imagine being in his presence – what would the team talks have been like or the press conferences – probably more questions given than answers to help develop those he led.

Jesus was the premier teacher and the supreme manager in his field. Yet, he too was crucified, rejected and despised – do any of those words sound familiar in the tabloid press in relation to these football managers. The reality was worse for Jesus and unlike bad results Jesus did no wrong. He was without sin.

Great to toast Claudio and his team for their performance. A story of redemption but even better to worship, sing and praise our Lord Jesus for his feat of achievement in redeeming a fallen world with his own blood for the good of all who chose to follow him.

Joe Lowther – CEO, Kick London

Journeys

As Kick London Staff, the thing we see more than anything is young people on journeys. Whether we are full time staff, teaching PE and guiding our mentees, or whether we are volunteer coaches leading academy sessions for an hour a week in the park, we see young people shaped, moulded and refined as we interact with them.

It is an incredible responsibility when you think about it. The way a young person views and interacts with the world can be influenced by you, and as you influence this one, you could in turn be influencing an entire future generation. As this blog is written, we at Kick London interact with 4,500 people under the age of 16 within school-time hours. 4,500 individual journeys.  4,500 lives that can be transformed by encouragement, positivity, role modelling and affirmation.

Not all journeys go to plan from the off. I am sure when a young man called Jamie Vardy played football in his back garden as an 8 year old, he imagined scoring goals against Germany for England. He probably didn’t envisage the trawl through non-league football via Fleetwood Town, a failed play-off attempt with Leicester in the Championship before working to the pinnacle of his career. A 20 year journey with many highs and lows. And thankfully, young Jamie’s journey is not yet over. Could a Premier League title and a European Championship winners medal be the next chapters in this journey?

As we work with young people, they will make mistakes. The number of mentees I have sat down with, repeating the same conversation about controlling feelings, empathising with staff and fellow pupils, maintaining motivation; it truly is uncountable. Sometimes, our journeys take a while. Sometimes our journeys can feel very repetitive. Oftentimes, we feel that we are seeing the same scenery. But it’s only when we look back that we see the path, and the times where our mistakes and heartaches developed our character. Some of the chapters may have been sad, but they make for an incredibly moving tale of triumph. Just ask Jamie Vardy!

When we look at the Bible, we see many journeys. We see men and women strive on through difficult times, but as they grow in character, they bring glory to God. I imagine that not every stone David slung at predators as a young man made contact. I imagine he lost a few sheep to the wolves! But through his journey, he was ready when it came down to the crunch.
Perhaps as you read this blog, you are a member of the Kick London family. Perhaps you are just curious about what we do. You may even be reading this blog as a young person who was once influenced by a Kick London coach in your school! However, in this life, we are players in everybody else’s journeys; journeys of faith, journeys of work, journeys of love and loss. Never under estimate the impact you may be having on someone as you journey with them in life. May we be inspired to journey positively with the younger generation, and be encouraged as we look at the journeys around us.

Andy Dutton – Sport Coach

Responding to Paris

Responding to Paris, a Christian view Since the Paris terror attacks on Friday evening, I have been trying to rationalise my emotions, pull together my thoughts, and even reason with the how’s and the why’s that would explain the atrocities seeing innocent lives impacted. This came to a head this morning, when leading a discussion with a group of year 5 students during their classroom worship session. Children of 10 years old see the news, hear the radio, read the articles, but are unable to tie together these sources into rational conclusions. By the same token, that’s the way I’ve felt all weekend! Deeply saddened, anxious, confused. And the ever lingering question of “What next?” (Or possibly even scarier, “When next?” or “Who next?”) I was really moved by the way people have shown their love and commitment to France and the French people. People of all nations, creed and colour. Normally there is banter flying back and forth between the French and the English particularly with the recent rugby world cup but seeing the France and England game at Wembley last night was so moving.

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The result was immaterial, the togetherness will live long in the memory. Players standing shoulder to shoulder in solidarity. Countries united by grief, a desire to comfort and stand against terrorism.

And this is where we can see God’s character. God loves us all. We are all created by Him and for Him. He delights in us! He loves us and desires to be in union with us. To stand with us. God gave the world a solution. God’s provision was Jesus Christ, a man who could live a blameless life, and take away the sin of the world. We have the offer to accept God’s grace in Jesus on the cross, in the knowledge He died for you and me, to forgive us. If Jesus can forgive our mistakes, He will forgive others mistakes, from the very small, to the very large. I pray for the families of this tragic event and the people affected in France can be comforted by a knowledge of God’s grace for them, and what Jesus has done.  I also pray for peace, reassurance and God’s love in France; a place where God isn’t an overly welcome figure. May this be a situation that out of tragedy comes answers, a cry out for peace.

France we stand with you and it is great to see sport being used as a symbol for social good.

Andy Dutton – Sports Coach

Make the most of today

This morning as I was preparing to go to work, I was thinking “Wednesday…just two more days to go”. And then I stopped myself. If this was my last week on earth, would I be wishing it away? Would I be trotting out lines like “Monday again, groan” or “Thank goodness it’s Friday!”

Our every day on earth is a blessing. By grace alone I wake up each day. My role to play is to impact someone else’s life in a positive way. If this were my last week on earth, wouldn’t I try even harder to share an encouraging word, and try to leave a significant and lasting impression on this world?

Remember, today is a gift. Go and impact the world positively! Go and make someone’s day!

Author: Andy Dutton – Staff Coach

A new horizon

horizonAs the summer holidays come to an end, we start to look forward to a new school year and new opportunities. For some it will mean a new beginning as they start a new school or a new job, but for everyone it’s a chance to start afresh and make the most of the opportunities we will be given to make a positive difference in the schools and communities where we live and work.

For many of us we will be going back to the same schools and churches where we have been working for many years. We can continue to build on the work which we having been doing over many years, nurturing the seeds which have been sown, confident that in time they will bear fruit, fruit which will last.

I have been blessed to have worked with lots of people who have worked diligently and faithfully over the years, working hard to make a positive difference in young people’s lives, in often difficult circumstances.

In whatever we do, let us remember that one thing remains, which is the love of God for us and for those with whom we work. Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people. That is from the Bible and it is my hope and prayer for the future.

May God bless you.

There is no higher calling

grow upLast week I wrote about how Kick London seeks to transform young people’s lives and as it’s the heart of all we do we should always remember that whatever we are doing, it is part of the bigger picture of transformation.

As a parent I am learning that how I nurture and develop my children will have a big impact on who they will become when they are older. I can read books, learn from other parents, try new techniques and see what works (or doesn’t), but do any of these actually transform a life? Transform is a big word and speaks to me of becoming a new person, different in fundamental ways to the person I was before. Wow. How can I influence that?

For me, the only way I can help someone be transformed is to point them to Jesus and let Jesus do the transforming. That’s why we state that we seek to ‘transform young people’s lives, with God’s love‘. God’s love is manifested primarly in Jesus. I can speak about how I’ve been changed, I can read stories and find other people who have been transformed, but it’s only Jesus that can do the transforming.

The Bible says that, ‘anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun!’ And that happens when we let Jesus do the changing, the transforming, realising we can’t do it by ourselves and asking Him to forgive our past, cleanse our present and help us to live life in the right way in the future. The same power which raised Jesus from death to life is the same power which can transform our lives, if we want it and ask Jesus for it.

There is no higher calling than to help people experience this transformation.

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