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11:30 25 July 2014

The Potters House team show off their Newham Powerleague trophy

The Potters House team show off their Newham Powerleague trophy

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Young footballers swell Pastor’s flock

Pastor Rexton Davidson is a man with a visionPastor Rexton Davidson is a man with a vision

England could have done with some divine intervention at the World Cup a few weeks ago, but for one group of youngsters in Newham, their footballing skills as well as their own development has been nurtured by the church.

Rexton Davidson is a man with a vision and as senior pastor of the Potter’s House, Stratford Church, he has the means to bring youngsters into his flock with the prospect of five-a-side football as part of his ‘Bridging the Gap’ initative.

“I had the idea in the first place,” said Davidson. “We are always looking for a new and inventive way of engaging young people within the church and we knew that with the World Cup there would be plenty of interest.

“I believe that the church has to be part of the community – it is not a choice we have. So how do we engage young people into church who would not normally come here?”

The Pastor’s way was to get them playing football. He formed a five-a-side team that played at the Newham Powerleague event in Jenkins Lane and promptly stormed away with the trophy

But to the Romford Road, Stratford Pastor, it is a lot more than just playing football.

“It is not the winning, it is how we play the game that is so pleasing,” he said.

“We started with five players, but so many others have come along and said they want to play for us, because it is a good atmosphere to be in.

“There is so much raw talent out there in Newham and not just in football, in all walks of life, but it a question of guidance and changing their attitudes,” said Davidson, who also mentors youngsters in Newham children’s homes aside from his church work.

“We thought that the 2012 Olympics would change things. The infrastructure has changed, but most of the attitudes in Newham have not.”

So what of the religious aspect of the scheme?

“Ideally, we would like the footballers to come to church, but we do not want them to do anything they don’t want to,” he insisted.

“Everyone is welcome here. White, green, pink, yellow. A Muslim boy asked if he could come down, I said of course, it doesn’t matter what religion you are.”

Davidson is looking to branch out into music, cookery and even his own former profession – he was once a barber.

For now though he is concentrating on the expansion of the football team. They are now playing seven-a-side and a squad of 17 youngsters are preparing for a big competition in Roehampton on August 16, when teams from all the different Christian Fellowship Churches in the country will take part.

“My son is 18 now, but when he was younger there was a time when he needed guidance,” said the Pastor. “Now I am hoping to change the attitudes of other youngsters and take them out of their current environment.

“If I can help one, three or five families, then it will be worthwhile.”

It looks like the Pastor is already doing that and all with the help of sport.

Perhaps he can help that England team!

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