Kicking footballs in Caithness
Former professional footballer Brian Irvine has been using the skills that God has given him with Keiss Baptist Church in giving a coaching session to members of the Youth Club.
report (including pictures and video) by Kenny Cormack
Former Aberdeen FC and Scotland footballer Brian Irvine travelled to Caithness recently at the invitation of Keiss Baptist Church Youth Club to carry out a football coaching session for the teenage boys of the Youth Club.
He had been coaching the Ross County youth squad the previous night before travelling north and arriving at a late hour in order to be ready for the session on Friday morning.
Brian led a well-organised coaching session in the Keiss hall, during which he shared some of his experiences as a professional footballer and gave insights regarding what is needed to make it into the top level in the game.
The dangers of alcohol and drugs
He stressed the importance of training, teamwork and having a good attitude in order to be the best that they can be. Brian encouraged them to enjoy their football and have fun. He also pointed out to the youngsters the need to look after their physical well-being by having a healthy diet and avoiding the dangers of alcohol and drugs.
After lunch the squad went for a game of Laser combat at Achumore, near Forsinard in Sutherland. The teenagers had a fantastic time playing a variety of well organised games with the latest Hi-Tech equipment. They all said that it was something they certainly wanted to do again.
Brian sharing his story
Following the games the group returned to the Achumore Cornmill Bunkhouse for soup and sandwiches before Brian Irvine shared some personal accounts of the highs and lows of his football career.
Brian spoke of how he began his career at Falkirk in 1983, and of how during that time he became a Christian. From Falkirk he was then signed in 1985 by Sir Alex Fergusson for Aberdeen where he spent 12 years.
Some of the high points in his career included winning the Scottish Cup in 1990 against Celtic when he scored the winning goal in a tense penalty shoot-out. He also described what it was like to play at an international level for Scotland; and take to the field against the likes of Roberto Baggio of Italy.
Recovery through prayer
Brian explained that while football glories are temporary, his Christian faith has been a constant source of strength throughout his life. It carried him through difficult times including being diagnosed in 1995 with multiple sclerosis – a career-threatening and even life-threatening illness.
Despite this diagnosis and set-back, he returned to action as a substitute for Aberdeen just four months later. He attributes his amazing recovery as an answer to prayer.
Brian ended up playing more games after he was first diagnosed than before. He later went on to play for Dundee and then Ross County where he eventually retired as a player in 2003 at the age of 38. After retiring, Brian stayed with County as a coach. He has also had a spell as manager of Elgin City and assistant manager of Cleveland City Stars and Carolina RailHawks FC In the USA.
Click on image to play video
Sharing the Good News
Brian had a very attentive audience when he went on to share more fully the Good News of Jesus Christ. After having spoken he took questions from those gathered; not about his football career this time, but about ‘the way of salvation’. This capped a great day of activities and talks that encouraged and challenged everyone physically, emotionally and spiritually.
Some of the Caithness youngsters with Kenny and Brian
The young people tasted something of ‘life in all it’s fullness’ that Jesus promised to his followers. We are very grateful to Brian for taking the time to share with the young people here in the far north of Scotland.
Brian now works as a youth worker with Youth Inclusive in Inverness which was formed by various churches in Inverness coming together and seeking a way to help young people in the community.
Youth Inclusive runs various activity programmes for young people involving sports, arts and music.
Brian goes out with other workers to meet up with young people in the parks and streets, listening to their needs and issues and inviting them to join in on a Friday Drop-In at Hilton Community Centre. He still regularly commentates on football matches for the BBC and for Moray Firth Radio and can often be heard commentating on Inverness Caledonian Thistle and Ross County games.
A longer version of Brian's testimony can be read elsewhere on the Christians Together web site.
Kenny Cormack, 30/10/2010