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Loitering with intent

Loitering with intent

For four years, Christoph Zintl has been a volunteer chaplain with the Wellington Phoenix—the first chaplain the football club has had. ‘Loitering with intent’ is how Christoph describes a typical Friday for him.

The Christchurch-born, Kapiti-based Community Ministries manager is humble. Others could describe what he does as playing an important role in guiding young people amid amounts of pressure many of us can’t begin to imagine.

‘I love football, but I’m not just about that,’ he says. ‘What I do is soul care on and off the pitch.’

Most Fridays, Christoph spends time with the Phoenix’s development team, with players as young as 14 years. At such a young age, the pressure to perform well and potentially become professional football players is immense. ‘The pressure can be unending,’ Christoph explains.

‘Listening is a key part of what I do. Most of the conversations when I’m involved aren’t actually about football.’ Christoph might gently ask players questions, like when was the last time they spoke with their family, or what they do for fun outside of football. Such things are examples of good, ethical pastoral care, he says.

Players know Christoph—who has a background as a youth pastor and as chaplain at Rimutaka Prison—has faith in Jesus. Many of them have faith, too. No matter who he talks to, Christoph strives to model Christ’s love.

‘There’s an intentionality. Being attentive to people, to Jesus, and yourself is key. This goes beyond football.’

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