Briggsy Serving Sac Republic and now with Soccer Chaplains United

Oct 02, 2023

Pastor Robert Briggs loves to share and talk — about football and, especially, about faith and the Gospel. A native of Glasgow, Scotland, Robert has a divine “gift of gab” and, even better, a way of simply sharing the Gospel with people — no matter what hat he happens to wear in a particular moment.

Robert (also known as “Briggsy”) is the longtime volunteer chaplain to Sacramento Republic FC. He has been serving the team as volunteer chaplain since 2014 when the club first started play and won its first-ever championship in the United Soccer League — Championship. USL-C is the second division of professional soccer in the U.S. Most recently, Sac Republic (as it is also known) competed in the 2022 US Open Cup to a second-place finish against Orlando City FC of Major League Soccer (MLS).

Robert and I first time together at a pre-season friendly match in February 2016

I first met Robert in February of 2016. The Colorado Rapids had a pre-season match scheduled to face Sacramento Republic. Robert and I made plans to be together for the game. I had learned of Robert and his role with the club as part of my work with Soccer Chaplains United — as we looked to start reaching out and placing chaplains with other clubs. He shared a brilliant story of becoming involved with the team.

I saw that a football team was coming to Sacramento so I reached out in an email and offered to be the club chaplain. I told them, ‘I don’t want anything and I’ll be strictly a volunteer…’ I didn’t hear back for awhile and then as the club got going, everything just happened so quickly. Here we are now, some 10 years later.

Robert on his beginnings with Sacramento Republic

That was in 2014. Robert has been with the club as they have navigated a difficult soccer landscape in the USA. With the club looking to join MLS since its inception. The club was awarded a franchise in 2019, but the COVID pandemic saw the, then owner, pull out of his financial commitment and MLS Commissioner Don Garber withdrew the invitation — much to the devastation of the very loyal fans of the team.

I asked Robert, what his hopes and dreams are for Sacramento Republic FC for the next 10 years,

I want to continue deepening my relationships with people at the club and continue speaking, somehow, into their lives. I want to see the Gospel come to bear in their hearts and lives. Too, looking the landscape of Sacramento and the club, I have a heart and vision to see the ministry expanded. We have great potential to serve the Spanish-speaking much better. It’s my desire to see many of the lads coming from South and Central America served and loved well. Oh, if God could just give me the gift of tongues immediately — Spanish, please!!

Robert on his hope and vision for serving Sacramento Republic for the next 10 years
Robert is a pastor at Immanuel Baptist Church in Sacramento, CA

Now, truth be told, I (Brad) have been after Robert for some time to join Soccer Chaplains United. Part of my initial visit in 2016 was to see if Robert might be a good fit and addition to our group. We immediately felt a kinship as we spent a couple days together around that preseason match. He’s told me for years, “Brad, I am with you…” but the busy Scot has been leading a church, getting a ThM and serving as chaplain all whilst being dad and grandad along the way.

More recently, this year, the Rapids had a US Open Cup match up in Sacramento against the team and I took the opportunity to travel out for the game and to spend time with Robert again. “Briggsy” has been part of our podcasts in the past and has joined in chaplain education calls during some of the difficult moments of the past few years, but we just needed to get across the finish line of some admin process — and it has happened! In the words of someone we both love dearly, “It is finished!” 🙂

Sacramento Republic FC have a storied history — from winning a championship in its first year of existence (2014), to a raucous fan base, to a 2022 US Open Cup second-place finish.

During the interview phase a couple weeks ago, a board member asked Robert, “Why now? Why join Soccer Chaplains United at this time?” To which, Robert answered, “Yes, it’s just taken me a bit of time to get here, but I am looking forward to being part of Soccer Chaplains United in a more formal way.” I asked Robert as we were getting some onboarding done, what he hopes to gain from Soccer Chaplains United and he shared,

I have been thinking about this and I have two hopes: first, to gain some encouragement from fellow brothers in the same trenches. I am treated so well by Republic and I’ve really enjoyed my time. There have been difficult moments, but I know that I need tone encouraged at moments and I can also be an encourager. Second thing is, I am learning what chaplaincy should be and could be…I think I do well enough bringing my pastoral skill set to the team, but I need to grow as a chaplain and I see myself with you (Brad) and the others, learning more about how I can serve and expand the vision and heart of the ministry to the team.

Robert, sharing about joining Soccer Chaplains United

Briggsy now brings Soccer Chaplains United to 28 chaplains. He is the first ever volunteer chaplain in the history of Sacramento Republic.

Soccer Chaplains United is non-profit, 501(c)3 and depends upon the financial support of our partners to carry out our work of developing chaplaincy across all levels of soccer. Please consider making a contribution today to help us continue growing our work. Our chaplains are not employed or paid by any of the clubs that we serve. Check out our Donation Page with all the different options. Or, simply click the PushPay link below to make a secure, online, tax-deductible gift, or mail a donation to Soccer Chaplains United, PO Box 102081, Denver, CO 80250.

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