Sports chaplain Angy King

Mother and grandmother Angy King tells Jo Duckles about her faith, family and how she moved from teaching PE to being a sports chaplain at a university and to two women’s football teams.

We meet in the café at Buckinghamshire New University, where Angy is a member of the multi-faith chaplaincy team. We relax over a coffee as Angy’s next appointment for the day is a lunchtime event to help students de-stress. Angy’s faith story starts when she was the only child in the congregation at the Anglican village church her parents attended.

“I didn’t think I really understood everything about the Gospel but I liked the peace and quiet at church.”

Aged 17 the family moved abroad and Angy stopped going to church. She only began again after receiving support from a lecturer when she was struggling as an undergraduate at a specialist PE college. “I owed the lecturer a lot of essays. I felt I had no purpose to my life, not seeing the point of working meaninglessly for 50 years,” said Angy. Advising Angy to see a doctor and take a couple of weeks off from studying, the lecturer gave her some books written by Christians. “They took me back to my early Christian roots. They were written by people who had discovered purpose in their lives,” says Angy.

Joining her lecturer at church, Angy says she couldn’t believe the love and care the congregation had for one another. Learning to read the Bible as God’s word though, she had lots of questions and struggled with not being able to find black and white answers before committing to Christianity. “My lecturer explained that you don’t start following God understanding everything. It’s a lifelong journey. Sitting in my room one day I said: ‘Lord, this is my life. I want to follow you. It will take me the rest of my life to learn about you.’ That is what I have been doing ever since.”

Angy taught PE from the age of 22 to 58, with an eight-year break to have her three children. “I loved every minute of it. I loved being outside. I loved the practical side of things and being involved in sport,” says Angy. However, more important to Angy was her life as a wife and mum, and as a Christian. “I saw my job as somewhere God had put me,” she says. When her youngest son went to school, she was asked to work at a prep school that had been boys only, but had just started to take girls. “I am not into private education and it took me three years to get used to it, but once I did I loved it. They did PE every day and by the time they were 11 they were playing to a high standard,” she says.

Angy was head of girls’ games for six years before becoming head of swimming, setting up a complete swimming programme for the school. “Although swimming wasn’t really my thing I was the most qualified person there and I like a challenge,” says Angy, who helped youngsters become proficient in the water for four years before leaving to take a games job.

Angy’s love of sport had started at school when she took part in everything including athletics, hockey and netball. “When I went to PE college I specialised in hockey but I slipped a disc in my back and had an operation when I was 25. “I couldn’t go back to hockey again so I played netball for a while but it was difficult committing to a team sport with the children and my husband was working in London.”

At 40 Angy took up triathlon, starting with the sprint distance (usually roughly 750m swim, 20km bike and 5km run) and progressing to Olympic distance (1,500m swim, 40km bike and a 10km run). “I did triathlons for 15 years with two guys from church. We called ourselves the St Mary’s Tri Club,” says Angy, who worships at St Mary’s, Maidenhead. Now unable to run due to knee problems, Angy still cycles and swims, although she prioritises spending time with her grandchildren over training.

Angy got involved in sports chaplaincy after her children left home. Andy, her youngest son, left aged 16 on a football scholarship to Leicester. “It was the chance to fulfil a dream for him. He was with Chelsea for eight years before going to Leicester,” says Angy, who remembers his enthusiasm about playing as a child, even when it was pouring with rain.

Angy first heard about sports chaplaincy from a chaplain at Leicester. “He’d been on a course at Gloucester and was excited about what he was learning. I said it sounded wonderful but never once related it to me. While driving back from Wales one day I saw a sign to Gloucester and heard a light click on in my head – I knew I had to apply for the course.”

With a background as a Christian, a career teaching sport and a son who was a professional footballer, Angy was a perfect fit for the sports chaplaincy course. She plucked up the courage to tell her husband she needed to do it, and was even given the time away from the school where she worked to complete it.

As well as her university role, Angy works voluntarily for the Reading and Wales women’s football teams. She says:

“When I started I was the only chaplain in women’s football. There are now seven of us. I look after the pastoral and spiritual care of the players. Although I am proactive with my pastoral care I only discuss faith if they initiate the discussion. The only time I am overtly evangelistic is when I write Chaplain’s Chat for the match day programmes.”

Angy’s dissertation was on how the emotional wellbeing of international women footballers affected their performance in competitions. “How players are feeling, their relationships with coaches and other players and their lives in general all affect their performance on the pitch,” says Angy. “I see my role very much as someone who looks out for them as people rather than footballers because we know that if they are happy in themselves and their situations that will reflect in their performances.

“I’m a neutral person. I don’t say if they play or if they are on the bench, or if they are kept on at the end of the season. I am there for them in whatever situation they are in and what they discuss with me is confidential.” She is also the Pastoral Co-ordinator for Women’s Football for Sports Chaplaincy UK, which means she is responsible for encouraging others to become chaplains to women’s football teams.

Angy is married to Jon, and has three grown-up children and three grandchildren. She worships at St Mary’s, Maidenhead.

8TH JULY 2017

Page last updated: Friday 24th September 2021 3:31 PM
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