News / Sport, Interfaith, and Interdependence

Sport, Interfaith, and Interdependence

Blog / Director's blog

F&BF Communications

03 / 08 / 21

By Phil Champain, Director of the Faith & Belief Forum

One of the consequences of the pandemic has been to draw us back to our neighbourhoods. With travel restricted, we have spent more time in our houses and with our immediate neighbours and communities. Lots of positives have come out of this. There are numerous stories of neighbours helping and supporting each other. Covid-19 has put many strains on households, the threat to life being one. Local support networks have been badly needed.

Now, as we come out of lockdown and begin to connect with those who are not from our immediate neighbourhoods, we have the chance to widen our social circles once again. This brings with it a sense of relief – to be attending weddings, festivals, sporting events, and more. The chance to see people we haven’t seen for ages. To feel a bit more ‘normal’.

At F&BF we have recently been revisiting our values – those behaviours we work to and aspire to. One value we have been talking a lot about is ‘interdependence’. The idea that we are all connected to and dependent in some way on one another. My safety, for example, depends on the safety of others. My relationship with nature depends on how others relate to nature. Making our interdependency fair, whilst recognising and expressing our rich diversity is, perhaps, one of our greatest tests.

Values have also been much to the fore recently in relation to the men’s England football team and the discussions surrounding the European Championship. Manager Gareth Southgate has led his team with an awareness of how important behaviour is. For Southgate and his team, I suspect ‘winning at any costs’ is not a sentiment he would sign up to. There is a ‘right way’ when it comes to behaving as a football player, both on and off the pitch. He would, I feel, believe that supporting his players to be decent human beings is fully compatible with winning. There is an interdependency and interconnectedness between his players and role models and wider society.

We at F&BF are thankful to all those who use their public platforms to express values (through their behaviour) that challenge injustice and racism, and that demonstrate empathy for others. I am thankful that the England football team takes the knee. Showing support for anti-racism in this way is part of tackling the problem. I am thankful for the poise and dignity shown by young men such as Marcus Rashford, Jadon Sancho and Bukayo Saka in the face of appalling, persistent racist abuse. I am thankful for the charitable work of many footballers, and for their constant battle to improve. These athletes embody values and principles I aspire to but often fall short of.

As we come out of lockdown, we will again have the chance to interact with others more widely, to show what we feel about others by our behaviour – to express solidarity and empathy, and to seek out understanding. I relish this opportunity. It is not always easy, but I know the richness that can come with it. One opportunity coming up is the first ever London Interfaith Fun Run that we are organising together with Maccabi GB, supported by The Exilarch’s Foundation and in partnership with the Greater London Lieutenancy’s Council on Faith. Please join us on 30th August, not only to run, but to connect and engage with those from many different faith and belief backgrounds. It promises to be both fun and educational.

With the Olympics now officially open, the memories of that football final still fresh in our minds, and the Interfaith Fun Run just around the corner, what better reminder of the power of sport to enhance the values of interconnectedness and interdependence that will be so important to us as we come out of lockdown. And if you can’t make the Fun Run, why not nominate a person or charity that embodies these values. Nominate them for one of our London Faith & Belief Community Awards that will be presented in November. It is these individuals and organisations, like Gareth Southgate’s England team, that let their actions do the talking.

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