Clippers take Dublin

Posted: August 17, 2009

Dublin, Ireland.
Clipper basketball has arrived in Dublin, Ireland. A team of eight Clipper athletes, three alumni, two coaches, and the team chaplain and his family left Friday to spend two weeks in Ballymun—a low-income section of Dublin—leading basketball clinics and camps and playing with a team in Ireland’s top basketball league.

They will work with a local church to build relationships with and serve the surrounding community. They plan to send teams to work with the same groups in summers 2010 and 2011.

“We’re creating opportunities for student-athletes … to experience how their sport can be used to share the gospel,” says Kevin Thiessen, the Clipper Men's basketball team's chaplain. “Relationships can be built through sport that are unique.”

“Athletes are put on a pedestal—kids look up to them,” he continues. “They can set an example.”

Thiessen was part of the decision to go to Ireland, having served as a youth pastor in Dublin from 2004-2008. The team will stay and work with members of his former church.

Thiessen first experienced Ireland as a Briercrest College student. He was invited to join a European soccer tour in the mid-90s, and he developed a passion for relationship-building and follow-up on mission trips as opposed to “blitzing” a country—that is, limiting contact with a group to one short visit.

Follow-up is the basis of this and future trips to Dublin, says Thiessen.

This missions trip is only one of several for the Clipper Men’s basketball team. They went to Haiti in 2008, 2007, and 2006.