I love my sport. As this picture suggests I also love Chelsea Football Club so please forgive me that and keep reading! From a young age (as you can see) blue was the colour, and at 56 it still is, although replica kits have moved on a bit in the intervening years!

And although my sporting prowess has always been ‘middling’ at best, sport is one of the things that defines who I am, and as the Chelsea 70’s anthem continues, ‘winning is the aim’. Yes I’m super-competitive when it comes to all sport.
In terms of achieving sporting greatness, many have written on the balance of talent and training, but first we have to fall in love with our chosen sports. My father, God rest his soul, was the person who helped me find that love. He taught me how to kick and trap a football; how to swim (even though he didn’t much like swimming himself); how to serve a tennis ball; we learnt how to play squash together; he built a boat so we could learn to sail; even a small fraction of his greatest love, cricket, rubbed off on me.
Sport definitely brought my father and I closer, and I am convinced that more often than not, sport unites people rather than separates them. I still remember, albeit through gritted teeth, the hug I received from the complete stranger next to me as I sat in the home stands at Anfield, and watched dismayed as Vladimir Smicer snatched the last minute winner against Chelsea in the 2001/02 season. I also believe that sport has huge potential to bring joy and change for good into both individual lives and communities.
How we ‘play the game’ matters, is another lesson that I learnt from my father. It is one I try to follow. Interestingly I’m better at winning and losing with equal grace in team sports, than I am when it comes to individual endeavours (as some of my golfing friends may testify!), and I’m sure there is a moral in there somewhere. And I am convinced that when we reflect honestly on our conduct after any sporting endeavour, it holds a mirror to our soul and helps to keep us penitent, humble and grateful.
So is sport a trivial pursuit that Christendom should dismiss as a distraction from God’s higher callings to love Him with all our heart and to love our neighbours as our ourselves? I think not. I’ve been privileged to pursue my modest sporting career in ways that have linked strongly with my faith and with church life, and have received (and hopefully given) blessings aplenty from those I’ve played alongside and against. And that will be my focus as I give thanks for the gift of sport on the upcoming National Sports Sunday. Will you join with me?

Tony Sharp (Who Let The Dads Out? Project Coordinator at Care for the Family)