Many institutions recognize that they need to provide for their members’ spiritual needs. People in hospitals and prisons or on military bases and ships cannot get to a normal church congregation. Students at schools and universities face common challenges in growing up and have many questions about religious faith. Consequently, all these different kinds of institutions often set aside a place of worship for their members and appoint people to provide pastoral support for them. Typically, this place of worship is called a chapel, and the person who is in charge of the chapel is the chaplain. Chaplains usually lead services, offer religious instruction and give spiritual guidance.
When I competed in the 2004 Olympics I valued the support of the chaplains, especially the chaplain from my own country whom I had known beforehand. There have been a team of international protestant chaplains in the Olympics since 1988 to fulfil the freedom of worship stated by the Olympic Charter, and they are a vital part of competing at the Olympics. As a protestant Christian my spiritual needs consisted not just of attending religious services. I also valued the opportunity of bible studies and pastoral support from a Christian chaplain. I am convinced that the presence of a team of international sports chaplains is vital in ensuring that Olympians have counsellors from their own part of the world who really understand them, their culture, and are able to help them integrate their faith and their sport.
Debbie Flood, Rowing, Double Olympic silver medallists, RowingView all