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to put something back into the game and pass on what he had learne to youngsters

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About Sports Pursuits

Sports Pursuits was established in 1993 by Derek Jefferson, an ex professional footballer and FA qualified coach.

Derek played for a number of years in Premiership football, (previously known as 1st division), for Wolverhampton and Ipswich, and as Player-coach for Hereford. He played at the top level alongside national and international stars and for famous managers including Bobby Robson. He then went on to be the Reserve team manager for Birmingham City for five years.

Having acquired excellent playing, coaching and management skills at the highest levels, Derek saw a need to coach children who loved football and wanted to increase their skills. He wanted to “put something back into the game” and pass on what he had learnt to youngsters, but with an added dimension! Through his own faith experiences he became convinced that coaching youngsters the right way in football, based on Christian principles, could help with life skills including self-discipline, self-esteem, sportsmanship and team spirit. It would also help to bridge the gap between church and community in a positive and dynamic way as well as encouraging the development of traditional personal & social values applicable to everyday life.

In April 1998 Sports Pursuits was formed into a sports charity appointing some well known personalities in the sports-world as Trustees and members of the Council of Reference. It is now a rapidly expanding organisation, which encompasses a variety of sports and a growing number of Christian coaches.The vision is to bring a Christian message and ethos to all (but especially those with social disadvantage) by making high quality sporting opportunities available.

Derek Jefferson is a partner at the Renewal Christian Centre, Lode Lane, Solihull. Sports Pursuits also works closely with the leadership of Renewal to engage with the local community through mentoring, training and outreach initiatives. One of the Charity's trustees is Dr David E. Carr, Senior Pastor at Renewal C.C.

Click here to go to Renewal Christian Centre website.

Derek’ s Story

DerekI was born in the North East of England in 1948 and played football for school and county. I had 17 years playing football at the top level, for Ipswich Town, Wolves and Hereford as well as two years in America. Life was good to me, but while I was playing for Wolves I lost my two year old daughter Victoria. I decided at this point that there could not be a loving God and tried to fill my emptiness by drinking heavily and living an excessive lifestyle.

It was while visiting my parents in Middlesbrough just after my marriage broke down that I attended a Church service which was to change my life completely. During the service a young man explained how God had changed his life. He talked about Jesus as a real person and of the forgiveness of God that he had experienced. I found myself crying. I wanted what he had. I needed a new start. I had never really had any peace in my life and that night I found a peace I had not known before. It has stayed with me ever since.

My footballing career had come to an end and having qualified as a football coach I was appointed Reserve Team Manager at Birmingham City under Jim Smith. My life took on a new dimension. I was involved in football at the highest level but had a sense of peace and purpose I had never had before.

I remarried to Linda the daughter of a minister and we now have 6 children between us, including 2 from my previous marriage. After 5 years at Birmingham City I decided to give up football and devote more time to my family and the local church. Against all odds having no formal qualifications I became a Pharmaceutical Representative and ended up working for Glaxo as a successful salesman.

Around about 10 years ago I felt God wanted me to use my football skills to help reach young people with the Christian message. I talked it over with my minister and that summer Sports Pursuits was born. A group of youngsters came together for 3 days of intensive training. Important football skills, life skills and disciplines, together with Christian teaching formed the basis of the course. At the end of the three days there was a medal and certificate presentation at the church with 300 parents attending, over 80% of them unchurched.

I firmly believe that if God asks you to give something up he replaces it with something better. I gave up football but now help youngsters to enjoy sport and improve their skills. I also show them how being a Christian can help them to enjoy it even more.

Board of Reference

We have a great group of people who form our Board of Reference. We thought you may like to know a little more about them so we have put together a profile on each one.

Andrew Wingfield Digby
Andrew was born and brought up in a Dorset Vicarage in a sport mad family. He played rugby and cricket for his school, and then cricket for Oxford University, Dorset and the Minor Counties. In 1980 he became the first part time, and in 1984, the first full time Director of Christians in Sport, of which he is currently the chairman. In 2002 he returned to local church ministry and is currently the Vicar of St Andrew’s church in North Oxford - a large and growing evangelical anglican church.

Gerald Williams
The former BBC and later Sky television tennis correspondent. Before that he was a football writer on the Daily Mail and used to write about Derek Jefferson in his Ipswich Town days. A former choir boy and altar server, Gerald became a Christian in a mid-life crisis and wrote a Christian best-seller about it. Today, he is in shared leadership of a work he helped to start 5 years ago in Carmarthen, West Wales and still commentates on occasional tennis abroad.

Cyrille Regis
A former qualified electrician who signed for West Bromwich Albion from Hayes Town in 1977, he went on to play for the Baggies for 7 years prior to playing for Coventry CFC, Aston Villa, Wolverhampton Wanderers FC, Wycombe Wanderers and Chester City through a 19 year professional career. After retiring, Cyrille, having obtained his EUFA “A” coaching licence, coached the Albion reserves for 3 years before going on to complete his FA Agents license an is now currently working for the Stellar Football Management Group advising current and young aspiring footballers. During his football career, Cyrille played for England “A” 5 times, won the PFA Young Player of the Year Award and was an integral part of Coventry City's FA Cup win against Tottenham Hotspurs in 1987.

Andy Reed
Before becoming an MP in the 1997 election, Andy used his Public Administration degree in the service of the local councils - first Leicester City Council (where he worked in Urban Regeneration), then Leicestershire County Council. He was initially an Employment Officer in the Economic Development Section, before taking up a post as the European Affairs Officer for the County Council. Andy chaired East Midlands Sport - the Regional campaigning voice for Sport and recreation in the East Midlands between 2000 and 2003. Then, because of his commitment to sport, he was also appointed as Chair to a couple of positions. He chairs the National Strategic Partnership for Volunteering in Sport - an umbrella organisation for all those who are involved with sports volunteers, and also the shadow Board of the County Sport Partnership in Leicestershire. Andy has a passion for sport and what it can achieve.

Alison Nicholas
My career as a golf professional has spanned over 20 years. During which I have won 18 tournaments around the world, including the British and US Open championships. I have represented Europe in the Solheim Cup on six occasions and I am the present Captain for the European side. I have retired from tournament golf and concentrate my efforts these days on golf days, clinics, coaching, consultancy work, speaking engagements, commentary and charity work.