It's been a varied few days on the Stranraer FC chaplaincy front. Saturday saw the team defeat East Fife 2-1 to finish 7th in the league - a very respectable finish given that they had been bottom of the table at Christmas. A few hours after the game, it was time for the annual awards dinner. As chaplain, I am asked to say grace before the meal each year. The dinner is a great opportunity to chat to the players, committee and others involved with the club.
Then yesterday I went to Paisley for a Regional Training Day on the subject of sudden bereavement. It was a hard-hitting day, led by Sports Chaplaincy UK CEO Warren Evans, focusing on supporting those who lose children, but also touching on other sudden bereavements such as suicide.
After having lunch together, we heard an update on the growth, needs and opportunities of chaplaincy in the UK, and were also able to hear a bit about how our fellow chaplains have been getting on.
The BBC featured a timely interview with Kilmarnock's Kris Boyd yesterday as part of Mental Health Awareness Week where he spoke about his brother's suicide last year. PFA Scotland figures show that nearly two thirds of footballers in Scotland have experienced mental health problems or know a team-mate who has. As last week's news about Everton's Aaron Lennon highlights, someone can seem to have it all from the outside but still be in pain inside. Training days like this aim to leave chaplains better equipped to support anyone involved in a football club who is going through a tough time.
Stephen Steele, club chaplain to Stranraer FC