A Brief History of Sports Chaplaincy in Australia
The following is an excerpt written by Noel Mitaxa and Cameron Butler from a chapter in Andrew Parker’s book, Sports Chaplaincy: Trends, Issues and Debates…
"As Australian sports ministry has grown over a thirty-year period, it has shown God’s sovereignty in linking two unlikely partners – our national passion for sports, and our cultural ambivalence towards religion and authority.
"Our love of sport has provided a strong social cohesion across ethnic and class divides that can accompany a sustained influx of immigrants. Though this cohesion is tested by good-natured tribal loyalties within our competitive sports, love for sports approaches ‘religion’ status for many Australians.
"Noting this, past national sports ministry chairman Dr Ross Clifford observes:
"Most Australians find their fulfillment in some form of sport or leisure, as participants or as spectators, and unless the church relates the Gospel to sports, we will continue to be bypassed as irrelevant.
"Formal sports chaplaincy was launched at the highest level, with Australia’s Test Cricket team appointing Rev Mark Tronson, a Baptist pastor and part-time industrial chaplain as its chaplain in December 1984. This appointment proved to be a tremendous boost, for it lent credibility to our requests to other sports clubs and associations to consider chaplaincy for themselves."