Grassroots football teams get involved as football unites to commemorate the First World War
Grassroots teams across the UK have joined in football’s commemoration of the First World War on the centenary of the 1914 Christmas Truce as part of Football Remembers.
This December marks 100 years since the first Christmas of World War I – a time when stories tell of unofficial ceasefires taking part right across the Western Front and soldiers from both sides of the conflict stopping their fighting and coming together in ‘no man’s land’.
Some stories have been told of impromptu football matches breaking out between soldiers and it is based on these iconic images – of soldiers laying down their weapons and instead having a kickabout – that football has focused it’s commemoration.
Professional and amateur teams right across the UK have been marking the centenary with their own ‘moment in time’ – a pre-match photo of players from both sides mixed together to recreate the spirit of the Christmas truce.
Teams everywhere have uploaded their photos via social media using the hashtag #FootballRemembers to FootballRemembers.com – a website designed to act as national record of football in 2014, a century on from the start of the First World War.
A joint initiative from the Premier League, the FA and the Football League in partnership with the British Council, Football Remembers aims to ensure that young people will continue to learn about World War One for decades to come.
The programme of events kicked off in May 2014 – when more than 30,000 schools across the UK received Football Remembers education packs, including resources to help children learn more about the Christmas truce and football’s role in recruitment and morale during the First World War – and will continue to 2018.
HRH The Duke of Cambridge, President of the Football Association, said: “This is a tremendous resource for use in the classroom and at home. It promises to be a powerful way to engage and educate young people about such an important moment in our history.
“We all grew up with the story of soldiers from both sides putting down their arms on Christmas Day, and it remains wholly relevant today as a message of hope over adversity, even in the bleakest of times.”
Other events in the Football Remembers programme included the unveiling of a Christmas Truce Memorial – designed by 10-year-old Spencer Turner from Newcastle as part of a competition in the education pack – along with the release of a charity single and a British Army FA versus German Army football match at Aldershot FC.
The historical evidence of a football match between the two sides is scarce and the letter to the Manchester Guardian talking of “a football match with a bully beef tin” is without doubt more plausible than the romantic notion of a full game in the middle of a crater-strewn battlefield
Nevertheless, football has the ability to engage young people in learning like no other sport and if the mention of the sport serves to help young people learn about the First World War, then it can be no bad thing.
The 1914 Christmas Truce, however it played out, remains one of history’s most poignant examples of humanity overcoming the horror of war, albeit for an all-too-brief period of time. It is important that we recognise the spirit shown on those battlefields a century ago and football should be proud to play its part.
To find out more about Football Remembers, visit FootballRemembers.com.
Thanks to those of you who sent your mixed to photos to ourselves as well as to Football Remembers. We’ve included one as our Facebook cover image for the last 10 days and have also made our December Photo of the Month competition a Football Remembers special.
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