From retirement to Sports Chaplain

From retirement to Sports Chaplain Chappie at rugby training

30 May 2022

Fondly known as 'Chappie', Wayne Douglas is a respected and valued member of the St Paul’s Collegiate School community.

Employed as the school Sports Chaplain, Chappie shares career highlights and how he ended up working with Sports Chaplaincy New Zealand.

“After 40 years in radio and television, I found myself retired. As a rugby referee for secondary schools in North Harbour, Bay of Plenty and Waikato, I always had a passion for rugby and young people. When I also had to retire from refereeing due to an archilles injury, my wife Noelene asked me how I was going to fill in my day.”

Wayne felt his faith-based approach and making a difference in people’s lives was something he received immense joy from. He wasn’t sure how he was going to use these skills post retirement, until he had a conversation with a man called John Parker.

John Parker, a past parent of St Paul’s, was also the Waikato Sports Chaplaincy leader. John was a former New Zealand International cricketer – and therefore his chaplaincy work was primarily across sports. John believed this was a path Wayne could also follow.

Soon after setting up a meeting with then Headmaster Grant Lander and Revd Peter Rickman in 2018, Wayne was commissioned in the Chapel of Christ the King and welcomed to the St Paul’s family as the Sports Chaplain.

Typically Sports Chaplains are volunteers, providing help to navigate the triumphs, trials and tragedies young people face in sport. Chappie offers pastoral care, mentoring, life skills, bereavement and grieving care, stress management and above all, always available to listen.

Dylan Fletcher (Year 12) recently provided an email to Chappie and thanked him for all his work with him while he was recovering from a season ending injury.

“Hey Chappie, just wanted to say thank you for being at trainings and helping me out. Being injured is pretty tough at times and having to watch trainings and games while the boys are playing is difficult. I just appreciated having someone to talk to and encourage me when I got down and having someone on the sidelines to speak to about the frustrations is really helpful. A lot of people don’t understand so it’s nice to have someone to try and relate to. Thank you for being a vital part of the team.”

Always taken aback by the incredible feedback, Chappie remarks how these comments mean so much to him.

“If I have made a difference in just one person’s journey in life, I feel like I have succeeded. These kids are wonderful people and I get a lot of joy watching them develop and grow into fine human beings.”

Always on the sidelines to support whichever sport he can, Chappie is often seen around campus dressed immaculately and donning a friendly smile.