Sports Chaplains are not the first thing that would come to mind, if you asked Rugby league supporters to name a member of the backroom staff.
However with some three quarters of Super League teams having Sports Chaplains and the remainder hoping to have one in place sooner, rather than later.
Assisting them in their search is the charity Sports Chaplaincy UK, Pastor Warren Evans Director for Rugby League Chaplaincy explained more, “I work with the professional body setting up a network for the sport, not every club has a chaplain, though we do have an overall support network.”
The charity is to begin a social media campaign, supported by the Rugby Football League and the charity RL Cares.
Assistant coach at Bradford Bulls Lee St Hilaire pointed out the role that chaplains had played in helping playing colleagues and fans to deal with the deaths of players Gareth Swift and international player Terry Newton.
Though some chaplains are former players, whose numbers Sports Chaplaincy UK would like to grow, Richard Gamble CEO of the charity added “Whilst we seek players with a pastoral heart, it is more important that chaplains understand the needs and challenges of their chosen sport and the pressure within. Our expertise are in caring for people not giving sporting opinion”
Players supported by the charity may be young and far away from home for the first time, older players dealing with careers coming to a close or just the pressure of the physical and psychological demand of RL.
Pastor Warren added, “Those with no family or support network around them, feel isolated and vulnerable which is where the support of the chaplain comes in.”
Sports Chaplaincy UK provide support for the whole club and expect everyone from the clubs they serve to take advantage of it’s chaplains guidance and comfort regardless of their position within the club.
An example of this explains Lee St Hilaire was the chaplain’s presence during recent financial troubles at Bradford Bulls, “Pastor Warren genuinely cares for the club and is there whenever needed for the staff and players, I consider him a friend as well as club chaplain. I genuinely believe that clubs without chaplains are missing out!”