27 July 2023

‘Sport, faith, life’

Charlotte Tanner

Photo shows Charlotte Tanner.

Charlotte Tanner (Feltham) discusses how she shares her love for Jesus through her sports ministry.

Sport, faith, life. Three words that are now so connected. It’s funny to look back now and see how separate I kept those words. Training and match days, work and attending a Sunday service. Three busy, separate lives.

I am a member of Feltham Corps, but that’s not where the story starts. I attended Staines growing up and, as a teenager, I engaged with the youth programme. Football then took over on Sundays, and I stopped going to church. After some time away, figuring out who I was, a friend invited me to a divisional celebration at William Booth College. I saw someone I had known from Staines, who told me to pop along to Feltham. They took me along to Sport, Faith and Life, a weekend programme to inspire, equip and educate people for a life of sports mission.

The organiser was told that I loved sport, especially football, but had next to no faith. Sports Mission Specialist Rob Moye (THQ) took me under his wing and, since then, has supported me in my own ongoing sports mission. Through investing in me, I have been able to lead sports at summer schools and facilitate football sessions for others to use in their sports mission.

As far as my football career goes, I have played for Brentford FC Women for seven seasons, captaining the team. I am now entering my fifth season on the coaching staff as assistant head coach. I also coach at Brentford FC Community Sports Trust on the girls’ development and emerging talent centres.

I used to go to church, turn up late to football and say, ‘Sorry I’m late!’ I was still keeping my faith, sport and the rest of my life very separate. Now I have grown in faith and have learnt more about myself. Through my sports mission I have connected the strings between these parts of my life. When I am late to football, I now say, ‘Sorry I’m late, I was at church.’

The difference in this one sentence is huge; it has opened so many conversations about faith, particularly with one player, who replied, ‘Ah! I was at church this morning too.’ We now share prayers and Scripture. On match days, I fist-bump every player and staff member as we leave the changing room, whispering, ‘God, I give you…’ and I say their name as they go by.

I have seen God work through my recreation sessions. Women of all walks of life come along to kick a football and I am able to be their insight to Jesus. This establishes a community where everyone is accepted, a place to meet through football. The memories, conversations and friendships created during these sessions will stay with me for ever. I know that is God’s work. I am grateful to intertwine my sport, faith and life together now. I am now confident that God loves me for who I am and hope to learn and to grow to love like Jesus.

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Photo of Charlotte Tanner.

Charlotte Tanner


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