These thoughts are to help and inspire people like you and me to reach higher and strive for greater things, to stand for a cause more noble than self serving, seeing the good in others and seeking it for their sake. I unashamedly weave my faith, biblical insight and life experiences into a sporting context to illustrate my personal journey to this point - I hope in a small way, I can help you on your journey to being all you were intended to be....

There are now over 50 posts to check out, tweet, link to facebook or google+ Please feel free to share a link BUT If you use any of the illustrations please acknowledge the source as Phil Manchester, Bradford, England. You can follow me on twitter @philmanchester

Wednesday, 9 November 2011

An Act of Remembrance

In sport, there's always a sense of the unknown attached to away matches. What will the opposition be like on their own patch? You leave the familiarity of your own ground and you have to compete in their arena, their territory. The test in the face of the unknown can be daunting. We call sport combat, but it isn't warfare. Rugby is a full contact sport, but it isn't armed conflict.

When you play in an away game, you can have all of your set plays worked out, you can know all the moves and calls, but it's often the intangible bond that makes a team a team that carries you through the pressure and the physical challenges. But it's not war.

I recently visited a very prestigious boarding school with a team. We played against a backdrop of rolling hills, woodland and the towers of the old school building, complete with turrets and gargoyles. What a place to play a rugby match. You could feel the sense of tradition and history. We made history too ending a 15 year wait for an away win against our opponents. But it wasn't hand to hand fighting or roadside incendiary devices. It was a game. A game, between 30 lads, who clapped each other off the field, changed, sat down and ate a meal together.

I took the opportunity to have a look around. As I walked the corridors and entered into a great hall, I was confronted with a series of portraits of young men wearing military uniforms. There were seven (7) of them in total. Closer inspection revealed they were all former pupils. They had one very distinguished thing in common. They had all been awarded the highest military honour - the Victoria Cross. Seven from one school.

As I read the citations of their heroic acts and the notes about these incredible young men, several who paid with their lives, it dawned on me, these lads had played the same sport, on the same fields we had played on earlier that afternoon. I realised the lads who had played earlier, were these men in the making and what a responsibility I have as a dad, a friend, a coach.

My thoughts turned again to the spirit there had been that afternoon - to win. The bible has a great insight into camaraderie: "a brother is born for adversity and there is one who sticks closer than a brother". I thought of the lads, who knew their team mates were there for them. I thought of the selfless sacrifice of the seven young men, looking out at me from their portraits and of all who were helped by their heroism. I thought of the man's man Jesus Christ, who said "greater love has no man than this, that a man lays down his life for his friends", then demonstrated that love for all mankind through his death on the cross. Truly the one who sticks closer to us, even than a brother.

What an away trip. But it wasn't war. There are those engaged in a more fierce away match. There are families affected by the loss of loved ones and those that carry the scars of conflicts past and present. As the day for Remembrance approaches, let us not only take a moment to reflect, but let's allow the remembrance to make us act: to be the brother for times of adversity, to be a friend that sticks closer than a brother and like many who we remember and Christ who gave his all, let us give something of ourselves daily in selfless acts. After all our great sport is just that, a sport, it's not warfare.