Should the long view be considered, there are few nations that can match Argentina in soccer or Australia in field hockey - I speak as one who pioneered the Sports and Leisure Ministry and cricket chaplain from 1984.
These two international sports with similar histories, have had their greatest heroes to coach their national teams.
Argentina has enjoyed Deigo Maradona, their greatest player of all time (some would say the best the modern world has seen) to coach their national football (soccer) team. Although he had no coaching experience at this level, his reputation to lift a side is second to none. He shared FIFA's 'Player-of the Century' award with post-war Brazilian soccer super star Pele.
The headline in 'The Australian' newspaper read "Argentina calls upon the hand of God", alluding to the 1986 World Cup quarter final win over England in which Maradona had risen above goal keeper Peter Shilton to send the ball sailing into the goal. From the angle shown by the camera it was difficult to ascertain whether or not it was hit with Maradona's head or fist. Maradona made an infamous reference to the 'Hand of God'.
In a parallel situation, Hockey Australia at one time called upon Ric Charlesworth to coach the Kookaburras. He has had an unblemished record with the Hockeyroos, having coached them to win three Olympic gold medals.
Ric Charlesworth is synonymous with field hockey. He was consistently named as the world's best hockey player throughout the 1980's, and his career highlight was being part of the team that won the 1986 World Cup in London.
What is truly fascinating is that in the world of international sports where 'winning' is obviously the ultimate goal, such names as Maradona and Charlesworth bring such respect because of the reputation these sportsmen have gained as being able to demonstrate, and ask of others, feats that seem more than humanly possible.
The Name of Jesus Christ
Yet, for Christians the world over, the name of Jesus Christ remains above all names as one who inspires more than is humanly possible.
Therefore, what it is about the name of 'Jesus Christ' that brings such passion, by both believers and non-believers? In this case, it is not a sports competition!
Although sports writers might refer to Maradona and Charlesworth as 'divine' in their sporting endeavours, Maradona and Charlesworth, knowing their own hearts all to well, would be the first ones to deny any membership of the Deity.
However, the central issue of Jesus Christ is indeed the question which raises such passions: 'is He, who He claims He is?'
Dr Mark Tronson is a Baptist minister (retired) who served as the Australian cricket team chaplain for 17 years (2000 ret) and established Life After Cricket in 2001. He was recognised by the Olympic Ministry Medal in 2009 presented by Carl Lewis Olympian of the Century. He mentors young writers and has written 24 books, and enjoys writing. He is married to Delma, with four adult children and grand-children. Dr Tronson writes a daily article for Christian Today Australia (since 2008) and in November 2016 established Christian Today New Zealand. Dr Mark Tronson’s Press Service International in 2019 was awarded the Australasian Religious Press Association’s premier award, The Gutenberg.
Mark Tronson's archive of articles can be viewed at http://www.pressserviceinternational.org/mark-tronson.html