COMMUNITY 'ON THE BALL' IN GLASGOW
19th June 2014
A five-a-side football tournament, 'Stay Fit – Stay Focused', organized by the pastors and the Men's Ministries department of Glasgow Adventist church has built bridges with youth on the fringes of the church and well as many from the local community. Even the non-Adventist referee felt blessed. Coming from the Goals Soccer Centre in Shawlands, the hosting facility, he expressed, "Having officiated many tournaments, I'm impressed by the organisation and how individuals behaved themselves during the tournament."
Led by Glasgow members, Clement Makwero and Richmond Michelo the objective was to (re)connect with the youth, to stimulate their sense of focus and progressive working towards achievements, and to embrace the need of developing positive role models among men. As part of the Glasgow 'Commonhealth and Wellbeing Project' over four Sundays from 25 May to 15 June, eight teams registered with seven players in each team.
Who were the players? Some youth and men who regularly attend Adventist churches in the West-of Scotland district, but the majority were those who do not attend church anymore along with their friends. With supporters, individuals who came 'just to kick about' and children, a crowd of almost eighty people gathered on our 'peak' Sunday.
Despite the natural masculine competitiveness, it was moving to observe players working together and endeavouring to play in the 'true' spirit of the game. We heard an apology for inappropriate language, words of encouragement after a defeat, we saw handshakes after nerve-wracking matches, compassion and care after injuries or passing on of the randomly given gifts (such as footballs, shin pads, or water bottles) to friends who needed them more. Leaders spent an hour talking to a man who, on his way from a Sunday Mass, stopped to find out what organization starts a football match with a prayer.
There was a level of disappointment with every passing week as trailing teams were eliminated from the competition joining the cheering crowd. Following the nail-biting semi-finals on the third week, the final match was played symbolically on Father's Day. Pastor Bernie Holford, Scottish Mission President, then presented medals, gift vouchers, and the trophy to the winning team.
With this positive, meaningful initiative, we are positive that our sole sponsor, the Scottish Mission, will be joined by others next year. The management of 'Goals for free' have already given a voucher for use of their pitch for another four Sundays. Hence, Glasgow boys and men, continue to meet, not just for football, but for other exciting sports and social activities.
The words of the awarded player of the tournament, Ruhsan, a non-Adventist young man, encourage us to believe that old and new friendships built up during the tournament will continue. He said, "I enjoyed the tournament and I'm looking forward to being involved in future activities."
A selection of photos from the tournament can be seen on the Adventist Church picture gallery.
[Rodney Mupedziswa, Ivana Mendez. Photos: Igor Mihailov]