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How to organise a sports tournament

Sports people love to compete, and millions of people take part in sport every week in the UK; needless to say these people need to be reached with the good news of Jesus! A well-run sports tournament is a good way of bringing this people group together, building relationships and challenging stereotypes of what constitutes a church activity.

The purpose

The tournament can easily serve as an opportunity to present the gospel, or simply to build relationships with the community…

The tournament can easily serve as an opportunity to present the gospel, or simply to build relationships with the community – whatever the purpose and audience, it’s important to consider and write clear aims and objectives.

The practicalities

  • Decide on the sport(s) you want to include and whether you want to host a team or individual sports tournament.
  • Are you going to put age limits on those taking part?
  • Book a sports field or hall, as appropriate, well in advance of the event. Check the booking nearer the time.
  • Ensure that you can obtain the relevant sports equipment that you need for the tournament.
  • Ensure that you have competent referees who know the rules of the sport(s). Good officiating leads to greater enjoyment of sport for everyone!
  • Make a list of equipment you need and purchase or arrange hire in advance.
  • Decide on whether you’re going to provide food, refreshments, oranges at half time, etc.
  • Produce and distribute attractive publicity advertising the event via social media, flyering, and encourage people to be inviting guests proactively, not just on the day of the event.
  • Establish where in the tournament you want Christian content such as a testimony, short talk, video, etc.
  • Ensure that you have adequate insurance cover and all health and safety and child protection issues covered.

Hints and tips

  • If outdoors, have a wet weather programme up your sleeve.
  • If organising a team tournament, make sure that each team plays at least twice. Avoid having too many teams and long gaps between matches.
  • Be professional. Have good quality equipment and make sure you play the sports that you’re advertising.
  • Enjoy the sport and don’t cut it short. Don’t give the impression that the tournament is simply there to pad out a preaching opportunity.
  • The prize-giving or halfway through the tournament can be opportune moments to have a testimony or short talk, etc.
  • If organising a team tournament, it might be a good idea to obtain coloured bibs.
  • Use the event as an opportunity to take some photos and share them on social media afterwards or as promotion for a future event. But be sure to do this with permission of participants and avoid taking photos of minors/vulnerable people and follow safeguarding best practice.
  • Choose sports that will be enjoyed by the most people. Alternative sports such as Dodgeball and Spikeball are great for offering something new for people to try, reducing the potential for past sporting failures to prevent participation!
  • Try not to see the tournament as a one-off. It could be good to have it as a regular fixture or have a clear follow-up event planned to invite people to.
  • Provide a prize for the winner or winning team if possible – it’s up to you what you want to offer.


For more detailed free resources on how to run a sports tournament and other resources about reaching your local sports community head to the Christians in Sport website christiansinsport.org.uk/smp

On it you will find detailed guidance on how to run a variety of sports tournaments, pre-made publicity designs that are easy to adapt, and helpful pointers on how and when to share the gospel message at your event.

This article is copyright of Christians in Sport © 2021. Used with permission. Material from this article first appeared on the Christians in Sport website. www.christiansinsport.org.uk

Christians in Sport