Mme Christine Defraigne, the president of the Belgian Senate (and the highest-ranking non-royal in the country), in association with Panathlon Belgique, invited senators, experts in the nation's sporting life, the heads of the recognised religions and students in sports science from the Université catholique de Louvain to a day-conference on Sport, spirit of humanity in the Belgian Senate on 31 March.
The purpose of the day was to agree the text of a public charter on sport and religion which will guide local sports clubs into even more inclusive approaches to, for example, the participation of people with handicaps in sports competitions, or the wearing of the hijab during sports activities.
Much of the day was taken up in debate about the relation between sports psychology and religious commitment. Our diocese was represented by Jack McDonald in his capacity as chaplain-president of the (Napoleonic) central committee of the Anglican Church in Belgium. He managed to entertain the gathering with a couple of anecdotes from his time - long ago - coaching Caius Boat Club on the River Cam. The new Caius boathouse, (pictured below) opened in 2016 and has Jack's name on the foundation-stone. As Jack put it: 'My input in the boat club was always better-received than in the college chapel...'