A Christian youth organisation is giving young people the chance to play sport while learning about the gospel at soccer summer camps.
Coaching4Christ works with 1,000 pupils a week in local schools during term time, including Larne and Inver, Straid, Ballyclare, Kildarg, Kilbride, Doagh and Ballyboley primary schools.
Speaking ahead of the launch of the organisation’s summer camps in Larne and Ballyclare, Coach Jordan Hagan told The Times: “Coaching4Christ aims to reach the world with football, but more importantly to reach it with the gospel. Our motto is ‘excellence in everything’ and all our coaches are qualified and trained. It gives people a platform to share the gospel, spreading the word of God through football.”
In addition to summer camps in Northern Ireland, the organisation also undertakes outreach trips to countries such as Kenya, Uganda, Zimbabwe, Chile and Spain.
Jordan, who lives outside Larne, recently returned from Coaching4Christ’s summer camps in Serbia and Poland. He recalled: “We worked with gypsy children aged 8-12 in Belgrade, where we were invited by Belgrade Baptist Church. They had never really had anything like it before, it was a completely new experience. No one would ever have given them their time or worried about them. We were able to show them that Jesus loves them and that we loved them, and for those kids that was a big thing. We have translators with us but language is never a barrier. You befriend people and build a relationship with them.”
Mainly held in Antrim and Down, Coaching4Christ’s Northern Ireland summer camps range in size from 40 to 80 children, with the most popular attracting up to 100 participants.
Jordan believes that young people involved in the summer camps enjoy many benefits. He explained: “They improve their football skills and have great fun no matter what their level of ability. They make new friends while hearing the gospel.”
The positive experience of coaching with the organisation has had such a profound effect on Jordan, who is a member of Larne Congregational Church, that he now intends to pursue Christian outreach work. ..as a vocation. He declared: “I have really enjoyed it, it has been brilliant and it has taught me an awful lot. It has given me a purpose and I have found something I enjoy. I don’t mind going and coaching in the rain, I’m happy to do it when I see the kids smiling and I know I’m doing something right. You learn an awful lot about the Bible and yourself. I have done things I never thought I would be able to do, and it has been a great opportunity for personal growth.”
The Larne summer camp will run at Sandy Bay pitches on July 28-31. For more information contact Rachael Jones on 07521682552 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. Ballyclare summer camp will run on July 21-24. For more information visit http://www.coaching4christ.co.uk/