Playing Hockey For An Audience of One

Author: Emily Leakey

Picture: Flickr

Playing Hockey For An Audience of One

Emily Leakey's attitude to sport and sharing faith at university was transformed when she learnt to play before an audience of one.

Before going to university, I had never thought about how my faith and sport could be linked. I certainly did not think about using sport for worship, evangelising and witness.

However, when moving to Leeds for university in 2009, I was invited to a prayer group called ‘Christians in Sport’ by a guy who is now my husband.

It took place early on a Wednesday morning, where a group of students gathered together to read the Bible and pray for one another and our teammates. We then went out, ready to witness during our Wednesday sports matches and the socials that followed.

The tagline of Christians in Sport was ‘audience of one’, encouraging us to play our sport as if only Jesus was watching.

I can honestly say that this transformed my whole life, which might sound dramatic, but let me explain why.

1. Worship

Growing up, my understanding of worship meant singing songs on a Sunday at Church. When I started to try and play hockey as if I was playing for Jesus, I began to realise that I was also worshipping through this.

Whatever we are doing, if we use the skills and talents God has given us for His glory, it is worship and brings Him great delight. This not only transformed the way I played hockey, but also the way I studied, acted on nights out and spent my money. It can all be worship.

Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving.’(Colossians 3:23-24)

2. Freedom

When I was a child, I had a severely competitive nature, throwing tantrums and ruining the fun of many games. I loved winning and hated losing. Playing hockey for an ‘audience of one’ transformed this unhealthy competitive nature into a healthy one.

As I got to know Jesus as my Saviour and my friend, I realised that He loved me whether we won or lost, whether I scored a goal or caused a penalty. His love for me was so great; it did not depend on my achievements or performance. This brought me freedom and allowed me to play hard, but not be crippled by the outcome.

I have come that they may have life and have it to the full.’ (John 10:10)

3. Evangelisation

Whilst I had heard the saying “practice what you preach” a million times, I had not applied it to the hockey pitch. Moreover, I was certainly not intentionally thinking about my team mates becoming Christians. Yet, through Christians in Sport, I began to realise that I had a unique opportunity to be the only face of Jesus my teammates might ever meet. 

As a result, I started to play hockey in a more “holy” way and encouraged my teammates like never before. My behaviour on socials was also transformed and I started to pray for them and organise evangelistic events, to which I invited them.

Things had certainly changed in my life. To this day, I don’t know what impact God had through me during my time playing hockey at university-that’s God’s business- but I trust that I was a small part in God’s big plan for all my teammates.

Therefore, go and make disciples of all nations, baptising them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely, I am with you always, to the very end of the age.’(Matthew 28: 19-20)

  • If you are interested in getting involved with Christians In Sport at university, email:

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