Tag chaplain Neil Evans represented the Cook Islands in the over 50s division of the Tag World Cup last month. The event, held over four days,took place in Coff’s Harbour, Australia, with 32 nations competing. Both men and women play at this tournament, in age groups from under 16s to over 55s.
As well as playing, Neil took the role of informal team chaplain. While Neil does not have one drop of Cook Island blood, he received an exemption to play for this New Zealand-based team, after his New Zealand over 55 team were unable to field a side.
Neil was the non-playing Tag World Cup chaplain for the New Zealand teams in 2015. However he found that he had more opportunities to minister this time as a player, fully embedded with the team.
Tag World Cup chaplain highlights
‘The highlight for me was the first morning when on behalf of the 50s I was asked to share morning devotions,’ says Neil. ‘This lead to a number of positive conversations, for days afterwards.’
Morning devotions took place at 6 o’clock every morning, and all Cook Island players had to attend. Training sessions also opened and closed with prayer.
Neil’s team finished fifth out of five teams in their division.
‘We lost every game,’ he says, ‘But there was such a great team spirit; it was a great environment to play in.’
Another highlight for Neil was playing against former Kangaroo and two time Dally M Medallist, Cliff Lyons.
Back home in Auckland, Neil plays Masters League with the Northcote Tigers, works as a lawyer and mediator, and is writing his second novel.
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