A character coach (green shirt) was assigned to every team to pray and share Jesus with the athletes.

On July 21 and 22, the Tampa Bay Fellowship of Christian Athletes (FCA) hosted its fifth annual ‘King of Kings’ 7-on-7 football tournament at the Buccaneers’ new indoor practice facility. Twenty-four area high schools participated in the event to include Spoto, Brandon, Lennard, Newsome and Durant.

Since 1954, the FCA has transformed the playing field into a mission field with its vision “to see the world impacted for Jesus Christ through the influence of coaches and athletes.”

Steve Young is the Tampa Metro Area Director for FCA and organized the ‘King of Kings’ tournament. Young has been involved with the FCA as a high school student, college student, pro athlete, athletic director and board member.

As a former Tampa Bay Buccaneer, Young had aspired to band together with the Buccaneers and host the tournament at its facility. This year the opportunity to play on the Buccaneers’ practice field came to fruition with sponsorship and assistance from Florida Hospital, a faith-based organization, who also brought in medical staff to act as athletic trainers.

“As things started coming together, I knew God was right in the middle of it all,” said Young. “And from a ministry standpoint, before each one of the sessions, we pulled the teams together and had former Buccaneer players come in and share their testimony and present the gospel.”

Additionally, FCA assigned each team a character coach who shared the life and love of Jesus with the athletes. Youth pastors and community members filled the character coach roles, and they either had an established relationship with that school or desired to cultivate one.

Young said, “The idea behind character coaches is that they would continue to serve in their role in the upcoming school year and throughout the season by being there on a regular basis for the students.”

During the event, athletes and spectators alike enjoyed the multiple vendors, giveaways, raffles, ‘The Bucs Experience,’ and food trucks while the Joy FM, a Christian radio station, broadcasted music throughout the facility.

The two-day competition culminated on Sunday afternoon with the championship game between the high schools Chamberlain and Jefferson. Chamberlain High School took home the trophy, but those whose hearts were changed by Jesus Christ went home as victors.

FCA has campus clubs in most high schools as well as opportunities for adults to serve as character coaches in its ‘Grab your Cleats’ program. For more information or to get involved with the Tampa Bay FCA, visit www.fcatampabay.org or contact the East Hillsborough Area Director, Dee Franks at dfranks@fca.org.