Growing Relationships through Touch Football

By Janine van den Tillaart

Within three days of moving to Port Hedland in 2006, Philip Knight started playing touch football in the local competition. “It’s an easy way when you first come to town to meet a whole bunch of people,” he says.

“Whether it’s touch footy or going along to a knitting club, it’s basically the same idea. You meet and connect with people, and naturally conversations happen and relationships grow. Basically you take your opportunities when you get them and leave the rest up to God.”

After injuring both his knees Philip started refereeing instead of playing, but this has allowed him to meet and speak with more people. He also took on a committee position in 2011 and became the referee’s coordinator in 2012.

“Because so many people come and go in Port Hedland, and many people run away when they’re asked to be on a committee, I decided to help out,” says Philip.

“As it’s a small town you really get to know people as you see them outside the context of touch – whether you’re picking your kids up from school or going to another community activity. I believe my main role is to be myself, pray and ask God to guide the conversations I have. It’s basically Evangelism 101. People like to complicate it but it’s really quite simple.”

There have been varied responses from the touch community to Philip and his day job. “Sometimes you get positive responses, sometimes negative and often confused,” he says. On the positive side he has had people knock on his door at 3am for assistance and others who have come to do marriage counselling.

Recently Philip added another string to his bow, he’s refereeing rugby league as well – another way of connecting with the Port Hedland community.