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


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.

Kick London seeks to transform young people’s lives

butterflyThat’s what it’s all about for us. We wouldn’t be doing what we do if we weren’t aiming for this, all the time. Our vision is what keeps us going and it’s something we should keep in our minds at all times, even when we’re doing the mundane things like pumping up footballs, paying the bills or writing reports. All of what we do works together to achieve our main aim – it’s the reason we work and plan and develop and seek out new ways of making it happen.

Remembering this is difficult as it’s easy to get caught up in the busyness and distractions of our daily lives. The traffic jam or the late train; the lost item of equipment; the child who has forgotten his PE kit; the other child who misbehaves. And then there’s the actual session to take. In all this, how do we keep our mission to transforms lives at the heart of all we do?

It’s our planning, our attitude and our heart which can go a long way to keep us focussed on our mission. The few minutes of quiet reflection before arriving at the school. In confronting bad behaviour, remembering every child is a person full of potential with the capacity to make a positive and worthwhile contribution…eventually. Remembering that God has changed us and given us a heart for these young people with which we seek that transformation in their lives.

Even in those mundane activities, we could be thinking how they could play a part in transforming a life. We could imagine how one thing we say, one thing we do, sets us apart and causes a young person to take a step closer to being transformed in to the person which God created them to be, free from anything in their past which may be holding them back and ready for a future where life can be lived in all its fulness.

There are many ways to the place where we want to be

crossroadThere are many ways to the place where we want to be, but choosing the right one and finding the best way is not easy.

I think what matters is that we are willing to make the journey and make the choice when there is a decision to be made. Do we want to go with the flow of the river or where the wind might blow us or are we willing to make a positive choice which influences the direction in which we are going? If we don’t, others will do it for us.

Sometimes we don’t know what is round the corner or over the hill, but we need to walk there and make the choice to take that path or to walk in that particular direction. When we encounter a crossroad, is it me who chooses where to go or do I let someone else make the decision for me?

We are more likely to end up where we want to be when we make a positive choice and show the initiative in determining the direction we ourselves are going. The journey can be as important as the destination and will sometimes even influence it.

The end of the (school) year has come

school's outAll things end and we have just finished another school term and also the school year. For some it means moving to new schools or new jobs or even a new place to live. Even if we will go back to the same place in September we can look back over the last year and think about all that’s happened in the 12 months which have past.

Like the runner who has run the course and is now at the end, having passed the finishing line, we can have a sense of pride for what we have accomplished. We can also look back and think about the progress we have made, the obstacles overcome, the people who have journeyed with us, the new things we have done, the old things we no longer do, the new people we have met and the person we have now become.

It’s these experiences which have formed us and helped us and will have prepared us for what is to come next. I hope we’ve made the most of the opportunities we’ve had and after a break to recover, I hope we will be ready for whatever we will be doing next.

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