The Australian Institute of Sport in Canberra adopted sport chaplaincy in 1987 – five years earlier I led the Sports and Leisure Ministry placing chaplains into professional sport was initiated (1982) – viz meetings with Heads of Church through the Interchurch Trade & Industry Mission (ITIM).
Returning from the 1982 Hong Kong conference on sports ministry I submitted reports to my own Baptist authorities and ITIM – as a consequence Heads of Churches adopted the sports chaplaincy ministry as sport was across the board. Chaplains from all denominations (one chaplain) representing the Australian church.
Time lines are parallel as several things were happening at the same time. A national sports ministry board was established by Heads of Churches with denominational appointments. By 1984 the ministry under ITM was ready to forge ahead.
Funding was through faith finance by Mark and Delma Tronson who was a 2 day a week industrial chaplain at Shell Australia in Sydney, plus faith funding.
The Australian Cricket Board was the first Australian professional sport to incorporate a chaplain (this was me) and this provided the wherewithal to travel across Australia introducing sport chaplaincy to all professional sports. After 18 years we had 150 sport chaplains across all Australian top sports.
Meanwhile with IOC Vic President Kevan Gospel also Chairman of Shell Australia – I was invited to the 1984 LA Olympics as a chaplain and this gave rise to visiting on invitation by many sport chaplains engaged in US professional sports and associated ministries to elite athletes – professional, college, high school.
1987 ITIM released the Sports and Leisure Ministry to its own energies due to the faith fiancé nature of the ongoing ministry. ITIM functions on industry pays.
Australian Institute of Sport
The first chaplain I appointed in 1987 to the AIS in Canberra was the Reverend Ken Bond who served for 2 years – an Olympic chaplain in Barcelona. In 1988 he was joined by Reverend Peter Nelson and Peter served for 29 years. In that time zone Peter was a Chaplain at the 1996 Atlanta Olympics and the 2000 Sydney Olympics and at several Commonwealth Games.
Elite athlete respite facility in 1992 Basil Sellers House was officially opened with AIS dignitaries in attendance – Moruya is a 2 hour drive from Canberra on the NSW south coast.
This was a lodge for AIS elite athlete respite and Delma and I relocated to Moruya to function this ministry – for next 14 years. Each AIS group received a bible teaching from me and when I was away with the cricketers, Peter Nelson or one of our team members - gave the presentation.
I was appointing various chaplains as Olympic chaplains and in 2000 Kevan Gosper sent me to the IOC in Lausanne Switzerland to assist staff to develop a Transfer of Knowledge for Olympic host city ‘Religious Servicers’.
SE Qld AIS
We relocated from Moruya to Tweed Heads in December 2005 to be closer to Delma’s widowed mum in Maclean, north coast of NSW. Delma’s mum died earlier this year 2021 - 93 years of age.
This move to Tweed Heads opened the door for the six AIS SE Qld sport units for respite ministry as the Surfing Domain Resort was made available for this purpose to us. This included cricket (men’s and women’s), squash. softball, diving, canoe.
Each of these units were visited regularly and many utilised the services of the respite facility at Cabarita (NSW north coast). A friend from our congregation the late Ian Carlson, a deputy principal, found himself in health difficulties and given medical retirement. Ian became my driver for many years from 2006.
When Greg Chappell became head coach of the AIS Cricket Unit at Allan Border Field in Brisbane with regular meetings – he made a far reaching decision not to have the young men several months at a time away from their wives / girl friends. He introduced two week stints of specialist coaching – spin, quick, bat, catching etc.
Everyone who serves in these athlete and broader ministries are volunteers along with those behind the scenes. An example is Steve and Debbie Suba former missionaries (an aircraft engineer) who settled in Launceston, Tasmania.
They put their multiple talents as our Tasmanian Coordinator over all these years arranging innumerable ‘athlete’ mission speaking tours and promotions. They have their Greens Beach, Bass Straight place as part of Well-Being Australia’s missions’ respite.
Elite athletes have unique pressures upon them and our ministry to them over many years has been of the proof over and over again. A massive thankyou to Mr Basil Sellers AM who provides the funding for our many projects in faith finance.
We held a number of elite athlete conferences around Australia and developed the Australian Missionary News IPTV with athlete, coach, chaplain interviews. These can be viewed at
Dr Mark Tronson - a 4 min video
Chairman – Well-Being Australia
Baptist Minister 44 years
- 1984 - Australian cricket team chaplain 17 years (Ret)
- 2001 - Life After Cricket (18 years Ret)
- 2009 - Olympic Ministry Medal – presented by Carl Lewis
- 2019 - The Gutenberg - (ARPA Christian Media premier award)
Gutenberg video - 2min 14sec
Married to Delma for 44 years with 4 children and 5 grand children