Since 2002, Soccer Chaplains United (known previously as CrossTraining) has offered chaplaincy services in Major League Soccer. Since then we’ve expanded to offer an integrated, team-approach. Our primary aim is to offer appropriate spiritual and pastoral care and support to individuals within the soccer community — whether athletes, coaches, staff, alumni, or families and fans. Soccer Chaplains United chaplaincy seeks to offer holistic care. We outline our process here a bit.
- Soccer Chaplains United works with a club or organization:
- Educates as to the specific goals and aims of a chaplain team
- Identifies boundaries, expectations, and special needs
- Reviews individuals a club/organization has pre-selected or identified
- Soccer Chaplains United begins an initial search for candidates meeting certain criteria:
- Master’s level theological training
- Ordained clergy
- Chaplaincy experience
- Embraces a pastoral/spiritual care approach
- Bilingual proficiency
- After identifying a candidate pool, Soccer Chaplains United selects the top candidates to have a club or organization meet and review for cultural fit and readiness.
- Works with club/organization to identify particular expectations, boundaries, and resources for the chaplain to serve with.
- Works to ensure that key organizational members understand and agree to the aims, expectations, and boundaries for chaplain to operate within.
- Soccer Chaplains United works with and resources the chaplain to continue development of chaplaincy.
- Sponsors continuing education (training, conferences, resources)
- Connects chaplain to larger network of soccer chaplains and broader network of sports chaplains
- Annually reviews chaplain’s work and offers encouragement and support for betterment of chaplaincy service
- Soccer Chaplains United develops routine follow up with club/organization to ensure satisfactory work and support of entire organization.
- What’s the cost? – Our chaplains are bi-vocational. We welcome donations to support our work, but we offer a no-cost care solution for those in the soccer community.
- What’s the benefit? – studies show that people thrive when they feel cared for. In the performance-driven, pressure-filled environment of professional sport, it can be difficult to receive appropriate care that speaks to the whole person. A well-trained chaplain can stand in the gap in many different situations to offer appropriate care and connect into larger resources.
- Why Soccer Chaplains United? – one of our values is to provide consistency of care. Within professional sport like soccer, much of the community is always moving and changing. It can be difficult to make meaningful and authentic relationships. We strongly believe that our model of care and support aids both the individual and the organization.
l Chaplains are not fans trying to get close to their sporting heroes and heroines. Chaplains are not failed sports people trying to resurrect former dreams through their role. Chaplains are not people seeking status or kudos or significance by their involvements. They are essentially pastors. They are involved to serve people in a world where hopes are created and dashed in an instant, where many wonder who they can really trust in conversation, where winners are lauded and losers ignored, where people don’t give up the game, but rather the game gives up on people. Chaplains are needed in sport. The worth and value of a pastorally trained and experienced minister providing unconditional support to members of the sports club staff is obvious. m
— Rev John Boyers, Manchester United Football Club Chaplain