Reading Football Club are proud to have had the very first sports chaplain to work within the women’s game, and here, Angy King talks about the role of a sports chaplain in women’s football, ahead of Women’s Football Weekend.
Angy King is in her seventh season as chaplain to Reading FC Women. She was the first sports chaplain to work within women’s football and is encouraged that there are now twenty-three in the UK. Angy is also Sports Chaplaincy UK’s Pastoral Coordinator for chaplains to women’s football; finding, placing, training and supporting those working within English clubs. Sports Chaplaincy is aimed at the care and wellbeing of everyone in the club to enable those of all faiths and no faith to flourish in whatever role they perform.
“I am part of a chaplaincy team at Reading along with Steve Prince, the men’s first team chaplain, and Charlie Baines, the Academy chaplain,” Angy said. “However, unlike Steve and Charlie, I work with all areas of the women’s club; the RTC – Under 10s to Under 16s – the academy and the first team. Sports chaplains support, comfort, listen and walk alongside players, staff, fans and all their families for the wellbeing of everyone. They recognise that if people feel cared for, valued, appreciated and listened to they will perform better and be more committed to their roles.”
Chaplains like Angy provide a safe place for people to talk confidentially about their worries and concerns. “Life can throw some pretty tough things our way,” Angy continued, “and sometimes what we need is to chat, offload, discuss options and find peace. We have the opportunity to help people change mindsets and develop a renewed way of thinking so that their world doesn’t come crashing down.”
In order to effectively serve their football communities, time is spent in and around the environment and in coffee shops – or walking during lockdown periods – building relationships through listening and practical care. The aim is to provide a consistency of love and companionship with the knowledge to signpost on to medical professionals where appropriate.
Topics of discussion have included family life, bereavement, challenges of illness and injury, relationship difficulties, mental health concerns and, of course, issues surrounding football. “Women, especially, feel better once they have had the chance to chat about issues that are bothering them. They are then better able to focus on their football or whatever role they play in the club.”
Spiritual support is available as required and a chance to discuss the bigger questions of life. Angy makes it clear that chaplains are not claiming to have all the answers, only that they have spent time considering the issues.
The Covid 19 lockdown has been a challenging time for everyone and Angy says the women chaplains have been creative in the way they keep in contact with those they support. “They have been busy messaging and emailing people in their clubs to check how they are doing, in addition to organising quizzes, an online bake off, socially distanced walks and BBQs. One chaplain even delivers homemade cookies to her training ground on a regular basis.”
If you feel the chaplains in this club could help you in any way or you would just like to get to know them better do feel free to contact them via the email addresses below; they would love to hear from you.
Women’s Football Weekend 2020 will be the biggest yet as every Women’s Super League game is spaced across the entire weekend, ensuring fans can watch each one with no overlap whatsoever, including Reading FC Women’s trip to Everton on Saturday at 4.30pm, which will be shown on the BBC Red Button.