August 3, 2017
It was always going to be a massive 8 days for Warwick Stadium as 28 basketball teams and their families from across Australia and New Zealand called the Stadium home during the prestigious Australian Helloworld Travel Under-16’s Junior Championships during July.
“We knew it was going to be a whole lot of fun with some exciting, elite sport – it’s the first time the Senators as a club has hosted the Nationals, and the upgrade and expansion of the Stadium helped secure the gig. We were really pumped about showcasing our facilities on a national stage,” said CCSRA Executive Director Joshua Nipps.
Over 20,000 people came through the doors over the week of fixtures alone, excluding the set up and pack down. “Every person that comes here – players, parents, spectators – is a ministry opportunity. That was why the Stadium was built!” said Nipps.
However what CCSRA didn’t see coming was the reaction from Basketball Australia and others who had an overwhelming response of being touched on a spiritual level by the way the event was run. For example, the immense value of sports chaplaincy was very real in a number of critical ways during the competition.
‘There was a tense incident that happened off site early on in the week that affected two teams. We immediately involved our Chaplaincy Team to debrief with the players and their parents and help them through that.” While the Senators were simply doing what they would normally do, the care of people was so striking that the response has prompted Basketball Australia to talk about how they might use Team Chaplaincy. “It was a phenomenal opportunity!” says Nipps.
Another key theme in the feedback was that people felt genuine warmth and hospitality, with some who had been involved with the event for 30 years commenting CCSRA was the most professional organisation they had ever dealt with. “We had 340 volunteers that went above and beyond to make Warwick Stadium a home away from home for people who travelled to get here. Volunteers from a range of local churches were on hand to serve people while multiple events were running, and they prepared before the event on an operational and spiritual level. The fact that people felt that hospitality opened up the chance for us to share with them our vision of third place and the reasons why we wanted this to be a temporary home for the week” adds Nipps.
The Gold Medal winners were Victoria Metro Girls and Queensland North Boys. “While we are proud to have delivered a first-class experience event for players and teams that travelled to Perth, the most exciting thing for us as a team was reminding us why we are all in sports ministry in the first place. It felt like the team brought church to a secular sporting competition”.