The End of a Season?

As the Football season drew to it’s exhilarating climax with the Champions League Final, it’s a great time to reflect on what has been a great season of entertainment.

Britain Soccer Football - Juventus v Real Madrid - UEFA Champions League Final - The National Stadium of Wales, Cardiff - June 3, 2017 Real Madrid celebrate with the trophy after winning the UEFA Champions League Final Reuters / Pool Pic / UEFA Livepic NO ARCHIVE, EDITORIAL USE ONLY

Chelsea were runaway leaders for most of the season (but the bottled the opportunity to win a double); Arsenal took the FA cup again (but appear to have made zero progress in four years); Crystal Palace battled bravely against relegation (a fight they were too good to be involved with in the first place); West Ham finished in mid-table (despite only playing well once this season); and Spurs put the pressure on.

Joking, wind-ups and banter aside, the beginning and end of the football season each year is very neatly book-ended. We have the Community Shield to kick off proceedings (and the European Champions Cup for the big boys!) and then the FA cup final and the Champions League Final to allow everyone the opportunity to breathe a sigh of relief and move on…

…well, move on to the silly season of the transfer window, a ridiculous money spinning world tour, or an International Championship.

Seasons in football (or perhaps any other sport, be in golf, tennis, Formula One racing, etc) are always neatly packaged affairs. A start date, and end date, every fixture and tournament scheduled and dated in between. No confusions, plenty of time for pre-planning and organization.

If only the seasons of our lives were this neatly packaged. Alas, they are not.

In our lives, we must appreciate that seasons come and go, there are times of prosperity, and times of trial. When we consider our families, our jobs, our relationships, our finances, and even our spiritual walks, there will almost always be a ducking and diving, roller coaster effect. If you could plot a line on a graph, the line would never always be high, nor low.

There are times when we become weary in what we are doing, or things begin to falter. Perhaps we are striving to keep a ministry alive when we are struggling for support, or numbers are dwindling, and you question whether God is even with you in it any more?

Ecclesiastes 3 sums up the seasons of our lives beautifully:

“There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens”
‭‭Ecclesiastes‬ ‭3:1‬ ‭NIV‬‬

When we go on to read the rest of the chapter, it goes on to compare polar opposites. For example, there are times to build, and times to destroy. There are times to be silent, and times to speak (I could list them all, but I’d encourage you to read it)!

If you are weary in a season, sometimes it is ok for that season to end. Sometimes it is right to make a fresh start, to try something new, to gain fresh perspective. This is not to say that we should give up easily, but to speak to God earnestly, and seek Him in our decision making, knowing that sometimes, seasons do end.

We must remember that in certain seasons, our work would have produced fruit: love, happiness, joy and blessing, both for ourselves and the people around us. Just because a season is ending, you should still be encouraged! A time may come when a season may come around again, when it is right to try something again that may have ended in the past. But if a season has come to an end (naturally), rejoice in that it existed, and that people were blessed by it!

When seasons do end, do not be discouraged to not try again. Seek God’s guidance in your decision making, and pray that the next thing you do will be a blessing to yourself and to others.

What’s your Problem? What’s your Solution? And what happens if you fail?

When I joined Kick London in November 2014 I had to write a fundraising strategy. In doing this you are meant to ask yourself the above 3 questions. So I thought our problem is that children and young people have stopped coming to church in their droves. Today 85% of children in the UK don’t step foot inside a church. In the Church of England of those who do attend – you are more likely to have survived the Titanic than survive being at church from childhood to adulthood.


Having prayed about what God wanted us to do we felt He gave us John 9:4 – Jesus said “As long as it is day, we must do the works of him who sent me. Night is coming, when no one can work.” There is a window of time to reach these young people this is our problem.


So what’s our solution to this? Well, we need to go out to them, build relationship and invite them to church. 99.7% of young people are in school – that is where they are. Of the 10 million school-aged children in the UK only 460,000 attend church on a Sunday but 3.3 million play sport on a Sunday. Therefore we need to talk their agenda – sport and why can’t we offer young people both sport and church at the weekend.


So we go into schools offering PE National Curriculum, Street Dance and Mentoring provision to engage these kids. All our sessions have a Christian values application such as perseverance, integrity and joy. We are then able to enable local churches to offer extended sport or dance provision at the weekend at a time which complements church. The young people receive coaching, linked to a theme, with an inspirational thought from the Bible at the break before they play matches or if a dance Academy they do routines.


It has been our testimony that “God’s work, when done in God’s way, never lacks God’s resources” (Chesterton). In the past 2 years we have seen engagement with our young people grow from 2,500 to 6,300 every week in schools. Our coaches are delivering professional services in 43 schools across London with 25 church based Kick Academies engaging their local young people. We have seen 10% of these young people engage in church through the Kick Academies.


The provision is now across 21 Boroughs in London – as far North as Muswell Hill, far South as Epsom, as far West as Sunbury and as far East as Dartford. We want to be ready to continue to grow to meet this problem but we also want to be led by the Lord. It has been a conviction for us as an organisation to sow to alive and not dead works because 1 Cors 3:6  “I, Paul plant, Apollo’s waters, but only God grows.” We want God to do the growth so that a generation of young people are not lost.


Joe Lowther, CEO of Kick London

Free Flowing Forgiveness

My recent life at Kick London has been all about mentoring. Mentoring is an area we as a charity have stepped up a lot in recent times, and it is possibly the way we see the most direct impact and transformation among the young people we work with.


The role of the mentor is to share wisdom beyond the years of the mentee, to empathise with the situation, and explain what solutions could be used to bring about a more desirable outcome for the mentee.


I find the issue I have been working on with my mentee’s recently, is the issues of conflict resolution, and ability to say sorry, and learning how to forgive others.


I have found the opposition to some of these is the idea that an apology must be given, before the young person can lavish their foe in forgiveness. But the question I often ask them (and possibly ask you, if you are currently going through a conflict), is “Do you need an apology to forgive?”


One of the hardest thing in life is expressing to someone that they have hurt you, but they either don’t acknowledge that you’re actually upset, blow your concerns off because “It was only banter!”, or flat out don’t care about your feelings. None of these situation’s feel particularly nice!


A great sporting example of this, was in the Italian league, where Sully Muntari was racially abused by an opponent. When Muntari complained to the official of the racist abuse, Muntari was booked, and when he left the field of play in protest, was sent off. Muntari later had his ban overturned, but admitted his was made to feel like a criminal for being a victim of racism.


In the context of this blog, should Muntari expect an apology from the player who abused him? The referee who sent him off? The manager (who effectively told him to toughen up and get on with it)? The Italian FA who turned a blind eye? In each of these instances, no. Probably not. But should Muntari forgive them? And the answer is yes, he should.


There are very few things in the world that upset me as much as racism. There are a few I would put on a par with it, or maybe slightly more serious, but this blog may take a dark turn if I started listing those! Alas, I consider racism (both in and out of football) one of the most vile actions in the world. However, if victim’s of racism were to carry the burden of hatred and grudge against those who have abused them, they too would become very heavily burdened and possibly even depressed.


We must remember, that as we forgive (and now I am talking generally about any abuse or hurt, not just racism), we are forgiving for the sake of our own health, our own mental well being, our own spirit and soul. We also may have to forgive those we love for the times they have hurt us (and it hurts more when the pain is caused by a loved one), because we value the relationship with that person more than the argument or our own point of view.


Ultimately though, we must view our own hurt through the eyes of God. For each time we feel we have been abused, hurt, or sinned against, we must consider the times we have fallen short of the glory of God. Our own abuses and mistakes towards him. The God of the Bible is a God who lavishes forgiveness selflessly, abundantly, and endlessly. A God who would sacrifice His own perfect Son, to give us an eternal forgiveness.


Colossians 3:12-13 says:


Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.


As you read this now, you may be struggling to forgive someone who has hurt you. Remember:

  • Forgiveness is for you, not for them.
  • Forgiveness is valuing your relationship above your argument.
  • Forgive others as God has forgiven you.

The Victor’s Crown

I recently had the pleasure of refereeing a football match between a school I used to deliver P.E. in, and it’s sister school that I currently deliver P.E. in.


Not the most overly daunting task until you factor in that the schools are both Pupil Referal Units, full of young people who have been kicked out of mainstream school for various behaviour issues! With a dash of sporting intensity, a pinch of school rivalry, and the teachers bigging up the bragging rights factor, and all of a sudden, you’re a solitary man, in the middle of 22 emotionally charged young people that you need to control! Most would say “Rather you than me!”, and I can’t disagree!


The match, surprisingly went off without a hitch, despite a penalty given against the home side, a dubious off-side goal allowed, a last minute free-kick given on the edge of the box which rattled the cross-bar and a few tasty tackles from either side!


The game finished 6-5, with the home side (the school I was currently teaching in) ending up on the losing end of the scoreline.


After the game, I had the awkward moment of having to walk back through the school, among the young people I teach, who had just lost, and a few struggling to control their emotions. I can’t say I was well liked, and a few of them were very vocal in expressing how they felt (although their comments are unprintable on this blog!)


What I did find extraordinary though, pre and post game, was the attitude of some of the staff:

“How could you give that penalty, don’t you remember where you work?!”

“You couldn’t have just blown up for a foul before they shot, couldn’t you?”

“Why didn’t you give a few more decisions out way?”

(these were actual things said to me, not even paraphrased)


The problem with this mentality and attitude, is that winning has taken a priority over the integrity of the game. I’ve come along way in my personal beliefs regarding this (possibly as I’ve got older, winning means less to me), but deep down, I couldn’t enjoy winning a game knowing I’d bent the rules to get there. If I concede a throw in or a corner, and claim the ball never touched me, I’ve lied to gain an advantage. If I’m honest, and my team concede a goal from that throw in or corner, then it’s not my honesty that has cost us a goal, but rather our inability to defend the opponents attack.


One of the most famous instances of sporting cheating, is Maradona’s “Hand of God” goal in the quarter finals of the 1986 World Cup finals. For those of you who are unaware of the incident (I am sure you are ALL aware of the incident), Maradona jumped with the goalkeeper, and used his hand to knock the ball past him and into the empty net, claiming that he had used his head. Inexplicably, the referee hadn’t been to Specsavers.


The question that is posed in this instance, is that if you couldn’t reach the ball with your head (within the laws of the game), using your hand is outside of the laws of the game, and therefore lacks integrity. Even if you get away with it, which somehow Maradona did, it’s not right. The major issue in the instance of Maradona, is he had enough natural ability to win the game without cheating (his second goal in the same game proved this). But if we must rely on a lack of integrity, over and above of our ability, does a win really mean anything at all?


In 2 Timothy 2:5, Paul shares some insight into living a life of integrity in our walk with Christ:


“Similarly, anyone who competes as an athlete does not receive the victor’s crown except by competing according to the rules.”


What does this mean in the context of our faith? In the beginning of the chapter, Paul encourages Timothy to be strong in his faith. Perhaps, there is a period of wavering. Maybe complaining? Maybe drifting from God? Maybe Timothy is going through some hardship, and not fully trusting in the Lord’s provision for his life. Ultimately, Paul speaks to him in terms of running a race. The race of life you could say. Can we truly wear a victor’s crown, at the end of our lives, if we’ve lied, cheated and stolen our way to the finish line?


Paul’s encouragement to Timothy is live a life of integrity. To be rewarded with a victor’s crown at the end of his race. We at Kick London offer you the same encouragement.



Living Responsibly

“Above all, my brothers and sisters, do not swear—not by heaven or by earth or by anything else. All you need to say is a simple “Yes” or “No.” Otherwise you will be condemned.”
‭‭James‬ ‭5:12‬ ‭NIV


The conversations I have had with young people this week seem to have all followed a similar pattern. Many of the young people I work with have become disgruntled around the fact that teachers are picking on them, calling them out for doing the wrong thing, even though everyone else is doing the wrong thing also.


However, I put it to the young people like this; Let’s suppose I’m driving my car at 40 mph in a 30 mph zone. All the other drivers around me are also driving at 40 mph, but a policeman pulls me over. Only me. What would my defence be? “But everyone else was doing it! Fine them too!”


Perhaps it is unfair that just I would be punished, but to receive punishment for committing a crime is also just, regardless of whether someone else is caught for doing the same crime or not.


How could I avoid the punishment? I could start by driving at 30 mph in the 30 mph zone. I could leave myself in a position of blamelessness. I can’t be pulled over or called out for my behaviour if my behaviour is perfect.


This for me is about accepting responsibility. If I ensure that I am doing the right things at the right times, I am living responsibly. However, if I make a mistake (and we all do), we have to take responsibility for our actions, and then do what it takes to right our wrongs. Perhaps it requires a further action. Perhaps it requires an apology. Perhaps it forces us to view our life retrospectively and make necessary changes.


The other day, I woke up early, and sleepily turned on the shower. I was attempting to warm the water before I got into the shower, but the combination of the plunger being pulled up and the shower head laying in the bath meant I had the unfortunate experience of being doused in cold water at 6am and a soaking wet bathroom to clear up!


My initial thought was “Arrgghh, it’s all her fault! What has she done that for?!” before thinking about it retrospectively (in the warm shower, I hasten to add). Why did a simple mistake need to have a person at fault? Was the shower left that way deliberately as a booby-trap for me?!


The simple fact was that’s I had made an error that was the fault of no-one at all, but just had to be dealt with. No blame, no accusations. Just mopping up a soggy bathroom. Taking responsibility.


In James’ epistle, he encourages us to ensure that our “Yes” means “yes”, and our “No” means “no”. At it’s basic form, it means to do the things we say we are going to do. To take responsibility over our actions, and to hold firm in our decisions when we do say no.


Accepting responsibility for our own actions is the first step in being the change you want to see in the world. We could all be more responsible for being loving towards one another. We could all take responsibility for being a little more selfless.


This is responsible living.

peter rolington with the community speedwatch camrea in goudhurst kent..

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.


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.


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

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