Every Wednesday after-school PSALMS run ‘PSALMSY football’ (named by the young people), a youth football session held at Stonehouse Sports Centre (Maidenhill School). Each week around 14-18 boys aged between 11 and 16 turn up ready for a kick-around with friends, and a chance at half-time to eat hobnobs and hear about how God loves them and the Christian faith is relevant to them today.
Since September 2018, the group has seen an influx of year 7 and 8s join the group, with them now making up 50% of those attending. Most of these came along after attending the lunch-time multi-sports session PSALMS runs for year 7s on a Wednesday lunchtime. Despite the new crowd and mix of ages and footballing ability the group has a great atmosphere about it.
Just before Christmas PSALMS was offered some free tickets to take a group of young people to a Forest Green Rovers home game, our local professional football club based in Nailsworth. PSALMS hadn’t taken the PSALMSY football group on trips before, but really wanted to bless these boys and to also build relationships with them but also of trust with their parents.
So, on Tuesday 29th January despite threats of snow 13 boys and 3 leaders made the trip to Nailsworth, most layered up to look like Michelin men! The atmosphere was incredible, and the boys were a credit to themselves, their families and PSALMS. Despite an early goal from the opposition and freezing toes the group weren’t disheartened, and the mass of chips eaten at half-time warmed us all up again! An early second half goal led to much excitement and suddenly we were game on and chants of ‘come on you Rovers’ echoed around the stadium! Sadly, the game ended 1-1, but the boys (and leaders!) had a great evening and asked when we could do something like that again, with them even coming up with their own ideas of trips.
For PSALMS, these sorts of groups are a great way of building relationships and starting to introduce the Christian faith in a relevant and engaging way, whilst also showing that Christians can enjoy football too! The biggest challenge is encouraging these boys to take steps of faith or to attend one of our residentials, so the hope is that through prayer and by introducing trips like this and involving them as young leaders in the May half-term sports camp, we may see this come to be!
Emily Twigg, Strategic Sports Minister (2019)