He told us more about what it involves:
“As well as being a safe, sporty environment, it’s also a platform to explore the Christian faith and find out about the person of Jesus. Each week 20-25 young people come along, and there are six local church volunteers. The mix of the local community with families from the church serving alongside their own kids was a joy to see.
“One of our recent highlights was a space academy themed summer camp that attracted 30-40 children.
“By the end of the camp, 18 of these young people, with no former connection to the church, made commitments to Jesus.
“Over the Thursdays this term we have focused on the role of a captain in a football match. We related it to Jesus leading by example and we illustrated his love of including everyone by passing the ball to the whole team before we try to go for goal. The children have also been praying for each other and for healing and are engaging with this asking to pray for each other.
“These Thursday sessions have been running for a number of years now and have proven to be sustainable through strong volunteer support. The focus has in recent years gravitated towards school years 3-7 with growing numbers being a great encouragement.
“We recently had a community event involving games inside the church. The parents and guardians of the children present ran the day which was fantastic to see.
“After a review meeting, the focus going forward will be on reconnecting with the youth and praying into how we can engage with them and introducing Jesus and his message of a radical lifestyle with fullness of life. Going into the schools will be the first point of contact and aimed at inviting children to Thursday sessions to play football and to have an opportunity to explore questions of faith.”
Simon, 35, is a former paramedic who moved to Cheltenham with his wife Jennifer in June last year. He is involved with St Paul’s Church in Cheltenham.