All-In Sports Conference: athletes, coaches share on prize greater than gold

All-In Sports Conference participants are, back, from the left, Delaine Mentoor, Bruce Nadin, Ian Taylor, Roscoe Pietersen, Andrew Kock (Sparta Speed and visionary for All In). In the front, from the left are Kelly Howitz (MC), Jessi Khan, Rikenette Steenkamp, Wenda Nel, Meghan Maartens, Marissa Mkhize (MC). (PHOTOS: Meghan Everard / Eminjay Photography)

What kind of story are you in? Where does sport fit in? Is He really Lord of the rings? Those are just some of the questions that came across over the weekend at the 4th All-In Sports Conference, hosted by Lighthouse Family Church in Gqeberha (PE). 

Many stories were told with many different beginnings, middles and endings, but what was clear was that these sportsmen and women had walked/run/jumped/swam/kicked through a journey where they have come out as more than conquerors, knowing that there’s an even greater glory through the suffering and pain, that God has held and matured them, and that is greater than any gold medal.

Here are some of their story snippets and statements from the weekend:

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Meghan Maartens, SA water polo goal keeper, Olympian:
‘The more we trained, the more we dreamed. It brought the goal closer and the win was within reach. We were in it together and for each other.” They were at this year’s 2021 Tokyo Olympics as SA first ever women’s water polo team. Meghan was the only goalkeeper for South Africa, and even though they came last, she scored fifth in her number of saves out of 10 goalkeepers. It was a great learning space. She was bullied at school because of a deformity in her right arm which lacks strength compared to her other arm. You would never imagine this when you see her in action in the water! She qualifies for the Para Olympics but her attitude is “why stop there when I can go further?’ Her advice to her younger self is – don’t listen to the bullies!

From the left, Meghan Maartens and Delaine Mentoor

Delaine Mentoor, First Female Olympic Head Water polo coach
The first woman of colour Olympic head coach! And the youngest too. History was made right there.
“Don’t ever sell yourself short.”
She doesn’t really like the statement ‘life is hard’. “Jesus died for us so that we could have life. It’s challenging, but we are overcomers and have the tools. I am not alone and I never am. I am enough and He is enough.” Another comment she made in light of recent findings of abuse in the sport – “We need the space to be safe for players. We need more women coaching women and we need to be doing better.”

Ian Taylor, Chippa United EC assistant coach
“I have a calling on my life to impact youth, to see them reach their potential as humans and as men. It’s about love and care of each individual player. Values and character are a daily challenge in the soccer world. It’s not easy being a Christian coach, but less of me and more of Him.”

From the left, Roscoe Pietersen, Bruce Nadin and Ian Taylor

Roscoe Pietersen, Chippa United EC defender
“I tried to do it all by myself. I learnt to surrender to Jesus and display the fruits of the Spirit.”
“God used my many injuries to teach me lessons in humility and surrender. Anger in sport is common. My anger came from me trying to be in control of the uncontrollable. Surrender to Jesus is the answer. There’s a prayer about this on page 44 of the Call Up Competitors Prayer Book. The inner work of the Holy Spirit has helped me and transformed me.”

Jessi Khan – SA sprint and hurdles coach
“Our faith in God keeps us on the right track. Passion drives action and action is needed for success. Stay true to yourself. We all have power – use it wisely. Success is never in isolation – we need each other. Stay humble.”

From the left, Rikenette Steenkamp and Jessi Khan

Rikenette Steenkamp – SA 100m hurdles record holder, African champion
“Hurdles are humbling!”
“Covid stopped my Olympic dream this time around and I am thankful I don’t have any permanent damage to my heart. God is in all of our stories.”
“It’s ok to say that you struggle. When it’s all gone and stripped away and I’m just Riki and it’s ok!
I am always a daughter of the King and that never changes. My identity is in Him and intact.
I have learnt to root myself in Christ, then my foundation can’t be shaken.”

Wenda Nel – SA 400m hurdles record holder, African champion, Olympian
“I see hurdles as the challenges in life that we need to navigate. Sometimes we are face down in the dirt, but we always get to choose life.”
“Choose hope! No matter the challenge. Get your ‘why’ back after a challenge and be ok with not doing ok. Always decide to get back up again. What is important is the journey and the lessons we learn along the way. Learn to celebrate the small and the big victories.”
“When I was feeling anxious ahead of a race at the Olympics, I read some prayers from the Call Up Competitors Prayer Book and felt such peace come over me. I realise my achievement is not my identity and I choose to glorify God through what I do. We need to train our minds and set them in the right place. (Philippians 4:8).”

Bruce Nadin – Sports Chaplaincy SA national director, Call Up Competitors Prayer Book author, Stellenbosch Football Club chaplain
Bruce challenged us on Sunday morning with this message –“God created us in His image to reflect his likeness in this world, so go and do good things with your different gifts – invent, compose, sing, build, jump, run, kick, swim and dive. Be a part of the diversity he created. The future is a magnet drawing us in. It changes our decisions today so what we do now really matters. We are inspired by an eternal city, so let it break into your reality now. Let’s bring heaven to earth in the way we live now.”

Bruce encouraged everyone on Sunday night to go to God if you are hurting, to be honest with God and acknowledge your feelings and emotions, to find others to help carry the load with you and to put your trust in God who will bring us forth as gold.

The Saturday rugby, soccer and netball coaching clinic was encouraging to those who attended.

All in all a most successful and inspiring weekend. The organisers would like to say, “Thank you to our event prize sponsors, Cross Fit Algoa, Leatherworx Guru, Madibaz High Performance Complex, Madibaz Athletics Club and Sparta Speed. We are truly grateful for all you have done this weekend. We look forward to continued support going forward. Thank you, Dankie, Nkosi. 2022 loading…”

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One Comment

  1. Amen to all of you. May the Lord continue to grow and strengthen you as He enables you to shine for Him. May all your wonderful gifts and talents be used to glorify Him. Bless you.