Our History and key inspiration for the founding of Higher Sports came from a ministry that developed in the USA in 1986 when a recreation minister called Caz McCaslin began a basketball ministry at a church in Spartenburg, South Carolina where emphasis was placed on Christ-likeness and good sportsmanship.
Changed hearts and lives were seen in those who played basketball and those who administered the league. With this immediate success the vision grew and soon there were seven churches participating in the programme. Now, over a quarter of a century later Upward Sports is the world’s largest Christian sports programme for children. Each year, some one million people around the world play, coach, referee or volunteer in Upward Sports leagues and camps, hosted by more than 2,600 churches. After regularly observing this exciting church resource in the States, Bryan Mason would return to the UK wondering how these same principles could work around the country.
He was realistic enough to know that basketball wouldn’t get many takers but other national sports might. It was in the summer of 2006 that a conversation with one of his sons, Ben, a rugby coach, produced the necessary spark. Higher Rugby came into being in 2007 as the first resource out of the Higher Sports stable. It was designed for boys and girls along tag-rugby lines and was accompanied by the devotional teaching of ‘Daniel, a First Team Player’. Workshops were run for churches interested and a lot of activity went on around the Rugby World Cup of 2007. After- school clubs also found the resource useful. The Higher Rugby bag contained all the equipment and coaching/teaching material needed for the course together with rugby powerballs whose specially designed colours allowed the coach or helper to explain about the Christian life.
In 2009 Higher Football was birthed and two years later in 2011 Higher Games appeared in time for churches to run their own Games programme in the lead up to the London Olympics of 2012. At the same time Bryan wrote ‘Beyond the Gold’, a book that detailed what every church should know about sports ministry, so providing an informative supplement to the Higher Sports resource kit bags.