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Rhondda Marvels – Agents of Transformation!   

Every year I love to start off our team article with a quote, so I can’t break tradition now can I?! Definitely Phil’s influence!! It was made by former US President Harry S. Truman: “It’s amazing what you can accomplish in life, if you don’t care who gets the credit!” Since being at London’s Hillsong Conference last summer with some of the team, I haven’t been able to shake those words from my mind!! Let me explain...

At the start of each academic year we reflect on all that was achieved in the previous year, from the Mighty Marvels Programme, events, finance, personnel, all the way to the All-Star Leadership Programme. Every single time we do it, I can't help but be reminded about the power of team!

And to see our team, who've accomplished so much over the last few years, retain their humility, passion, enthusiasm, and ready themselves for yet another academic year really is a sight to behold!

While no-one has sacrificed more than Phil of course (to this day, he's never been paid a penny for 17 years full-time commitment), we can never forget the countless people who have played a part - some bigger than others - in Sporting Marvels over the years.

But it is the Marvels who deserve special praise, because role-modelling in a place like Rhondda, at the intensity the Marvels do year-on-year, is no small feat. Their commitment to the cause, and their heart for the kids, are qualities that epitomise why we do what we do. They are passion-filled, driven, and focused on pressing on to positively impact as many of Rhondda’s young people as possible. The unique way the Marvels engage with the children, not just from a teacher-child perspective, but on a friendship level too, is the reason I believe, that so many children in the Rhondda love the Marvels. Their ongoing willingness to ‘go the extra mile’ is what has allowed each of them to become an integral part of the team, and it's what makes this current group stand out from the teams of the past. This ‘extra mile’ mentality is vital because there are now just over 700 children participating in our Mighty Marvels Programme with us teaching in around 70% of Rhondda’s Year 6 classes, and a further 175 young people that are with us on virtually a daily basis in the secondary school All-Star Programme.

Despite their obvious success and massive popularity that at times, borders on "celebrity", the front-line team are an incredibly humble group who are quick to give thanks in all circumstances and they’re so grateful for the people like myself, Phil and others in the background, who help ensure the environment that allows them to continue doing what they do. We all understand that it is ‘teamwork that makes the dreamwork’ after all! But their part in Sporting Marvels is as tough as it gets, because they are the ones on the ‘front-line’ wearing the jersey, winning the young people.

And as we look out at the start of yet another school year, knowing there is still much to do, they have readied themselves for battle once again. So much so that we even have to test their fear of heights at our annual Boot Camp to know they can come through tough moments!! Boot Camp is a team building opportunity at the start of each year where we put the team into pressure environments to see who’s ready to ‘dig deep’ in those challenging moments because ultimately like Phil always says ‘under pressure, the real you is always revealed!’ Boot Camp always provides an opportunity for us to pull together as a team, lift expectations, and for ensuring that every team member is ready to carry out their responsibilities to the best of their ability. Our most recent Boot Camp consisted of ‘High Rope’ activities which were followed by the mentally challenging ‘Escape Rooms’, before heading off to the annual “Sporting Marvels Team Conference” with guest speakers… the Marvels themselves!! ...It was all a little bit different to our usual camping in the rain that’s for sure!!

Mixed in with some team-bonding, Naomi, Jody & Lauren took time throughout the 24 hours to impart their most ‘valuable’ lessons into the team, something they’d learnt through their time in Sporting Marvels, and what a great opportunity it was for people to listen and learn! With a game of the famous ‘articulate’ as well as a Chinese and a fitness challenge to round off the 24 hours, Boot Camp hit exactly the right note as it looked to prepare the team for another big year!!

It’s a remarkable fact that near enough all of the Marvels in the team today were once 10 year-old Mighty Marvels kids being taught by the Marvels of yesteryear. And now, here they are years later, teaching the programme to the kids of today! They could have gone and done other things, but instead, they have committed themselves to the cause of putting a positive Christian role model in front of children in Rhondda for a season of their lives - a long season in many cases! They're all products of what Sporting Marvels is doing in the Rhondda, and it’s a real honour to see them all become integral parts of the team with their special brand of heart and passion!!