Chaplains’ response to mosque attacks
Like the rest of New Zealand, the Christchurch attacks of 15 March deeply affected the sports community. What has been our Sports Chaplains response to the mosque attacks?
Bangladesh cricket team
A press conference that ran over time saved the Bangladesh cricket team from being in Al Noor Mosque during the attack. They were about to disembark their bus when they heard shooting, and saw people, some wounded, running out. After hiding on the bus for a few minutes, the team fled to safety on foot through Hagley Park. They returned home the next day, following the cancellation of the rest of their tour.
Sports Chaplain Garfield Charles, who played cricket for Guyana, was in touch with his friend, fellow West Indian Courtney Walsh. Walsh is now the bowling coach for Bangladesh. He was able to meet with Walsh and share information to help support the players in understanding and responding to the trauma they experienced.
One of those killed in the attacks was Atta Elayyan, goalkeeper for the Canterbury and New Zealand futsal teams.
Two other football players were also killed.
Sports Chaplain Matt Hawkins met with Josh Margetts, Futsal Development Officer for NZ Football. They discussed providing support to the football community in dealing with the tragedy. Matt especially highlighted the need to have support available for the Canterbury team when they come together for the Men’s Futsal SuperLeague beginning in October.
‘The normal grieving process reaches a crisis point about six months after the loss. In this case this will coincide with the SuperLeague,’ Matt explains. ‘The difficulty is that those of us who weren’t directly affected will have moved on emotionally by then, so it is critical that we remember that others are still experiencing deep grief.’
Matt also spent time with Ouadhah Ragued, the coach of the Northern men’s futsal team. Ouadhah flew to Christchurch following the killings, to help prepare the bodies for burial.
Chaplains’ response to mosques attacks, in their workplaces
Sports Chaplains Jess Blake and Brendan Dickinson both lead prayers in their workplaces, as New Zealand remembered the tragedy a week on with two minutes of silence.
‘When I heard about the call to prayer and two minutes silence on Friday for the Christchurch victims, God put on my heart a challenge to ask my work if I could lead the prayer time and silence.
‘With the support of praying friends I went in to see my boss and ask if I could lead the prayer time. I said that I would be praying to God but others may pray to whomever they want in their hearts but I will address the prayer to my God.
‘And…. he said “Yes” and then sent an email to the company. We organised a lunch and everything.’
‘Thanks to the great training through SCNZ, and God working in me I am looked upon as the “Priest” at work. I led our brief remembrance service today. Our call centre is multicultural as including eight Muslims. With so many religions present I kept the words quite safe. But to end we all (110) sang the entire national anthem.’
Have you had any opportunities to provide help to people following the attacks? We would love to hear more stories of response to the mosque attacks.
If you would like support from a Sports Chaplain, then please contact us.