Bill Hunter – A Listening Ear For Our Paralympians

Bill Hunter leads The Salvation Army’s God’s Sports Arena Church, and was chaplain to the Brisbane Broncos for 20 years.

By Steff WillisWednesday 1 Sep 202196five AfternoonsSportReading Time: 3 minutes

Listen: Bill Hunter is part of the Australian Wellbeing Team in Tokyo and chats with Steff Willis about how he’s jumping in and helping our Para-athletes during a Games like no other.

Bill Hunter is a Chaplain who is part of the Australian Wellbeing Team in Tokyo, supporting our para-athletes as they navigate a Games like no other.

The last few years have been challenging for us all. We’ve all experienced the frustrations and heartache that come with dreams and plans being delayed and that’s certainly been the case for our Australian athletes as they nervously prepared for the games in Tokyo. Now that they’ve finally arrived, our athletes are facing new challenges.

Bill Hunter says one of the biggest challenges for our athletes in Tokyo is not having their friends and family in attendance.

“I think not having family and friends being able to be here cos a lot of Olympians and Paralympians have in the past, had the privilege of having family here to support them. That’s not happening. Luckily, we’ve got modern technology, we’ve got Facetime and that sort of stuff which is very helpful but it’s not quite the same.”

Bill with tennis champion Dylan Alcott.

Covid-19 has had an impact on Bill’s role as a chaplain as well as he’s been unable to meet with the staff and athletes prior to the games to build the connection and foundation that is essential for chaplaincy.

“I’ve had to really hit the ground running and go bang, let’s go make some connections but that’s happening really well and I’ve made some really good connections and some good friends and so people have actually said ‘can we catch up, can we have a meeting, I need to chat about a few things’ so that’s been really useful.”

While qualifying for the Games is a massive achievement in and of itself, there’s a lot of disappointment that can come with competing at this level. Bill is able to be there for the athletes when they’re feeling the weight of unmet expectations.

“You really can’t give too much advice except be a listening ear and a shoulder to cry on. There’s been a bit of that this Paralympic Games, some of the expectations haven’t been met with performance, some maybe not even completing their event due to having an incident or whatever so that is really hard. I think just being there for them, for Paralympic athletes just knowing that someone is there for them, that they can talk and cry and whatever they’ve got to do.”

“You’ve just got to be there for people and when they want to chat, yep – let’s do it.”

You can find Bill Hunter each Sunday leading God’s Sports Arena, a church service with a sporty, relaxed and positive approach to exploring your faith.