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Using the Power of Sport to Build Good Inter Faith Relations – Inter Faith Network

May 27, 2018

Sport and religion are old allies: Everton was started by St. Domingo’s RC Church; Southampton and Everton both started as youth clubs. Aston Villa was started by Weslyan Methodist. Olympic gymnast Jonathan Edwards tried to square his Christian beliefs with xompeting on a Sunday. There was a Bristol boxer who is also a Christian

I could say that ‘I told you so.’ I had advised an inter faith group of a possible future engaging young people in sport instead of merely talking. The elderly people on the committee couldn’t countenance the idea. This report comes 16 years after my spadework.

The interfaith network in partnership with Sporting Equals have produced a resource to provide some useful learning and best practice to develop community based initiatives which use sport to help break down barriers and integrate communities

The report includes case studies, personal stories and a wealth of ideas and good practice


you need to bring in agencies such as the local authority with their youth forums; county sport partnerships who can empower young people through coaching badges; voluntary agencies to allow them to continue volunteering; local universities; and so forth. You don’t want to let go of them now you have got them involved

Nelson Mandela: “Sport has the power to change the world. It has the power to unite people in a way that little else does. It speaks to youth in a language they understand. Sport can create hope where once there was despair. It is more powerful than Government in breaking down racial barriers”.

Rugby for all’: firstly, to increase women and girls playing rugby; secondly, to promote access to disabled people in our stadia; and, thirdly, to reach out to a new diverse audience, especially BaMe communities.

I ended up securing some employment working as a Sports Development officer for Burnley Borough Council. There I met a local Roman Catholic priest, Fr Brian kealey, who approached me and said he’d like to do a football tournament between children from the asian communities and children from the white communities. So I suggested we get teams from the local mosques and local churches to have a tournament.

Table Tennis england has been taking their sport to places of worship, and has found this to be an excellent way of engaging faith communities. This doesn’t have to be competitive – it is vital that sports organisations use their imagination to engage people. Another excellent example is of a sports organisation hosting ‘midnight football’ to  bring people together after the breaking of the fast during Ramadan

older faith leaders often don’t think about or prioritise sport

It’s online here.

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