Footballers face realities of conflict

05 November 2015 / Categories: DA News and Events

Report by Lt Col Jon Stott RRF, Technology School

Wycombe Wanderers FC swapped the training ground for the Defence Academy last week in a Realities of Conflict (RoC) Leadership Development day.

On Thursday 29 Oct 15 Wycombe Wanderers FC were invited to blister onto the Civil Service Fast Stream Course ‘Realities of Conflict (RoC) Experience’ day in a bid to assist the squad in their ongoing team leadership and development training. The event was designed to give the squad the opportunity to learn more about what it takes to succeed in the Armed Forces and receive inspirational talks from veterans who have served their country.The Wycombe Wanderers have a history of supporting the Armed Forces, most recently launching the Poppy Appeal in their local town. During their visit to the Technology School it was obvious that the team was extremely humbled, and uplifted, by their experience and went onto win 2-0 against Mansfield at the weekend after a number of defeats. The manager (Gareth Ainsworth) believes the win on Saturday was as a direct result of the inspiration gained from meeting the serving soldiers and veterans at the Defence Academy last week.

During the RoC day former Corporal Andy Reid gave a talk on the incredible challenges he has had to overcome since losing both legs and an arm after stepping on a landmine whilst out on patrol in Helmand Province six years ago, and how his path to recovery both physically and mentally was aided by setting himself a series of short and long-term goals to achieve. The day at the Defence Academy ended with a question and answer session with four highly decorated war veterans, who shared their extraordinary stories of courage and bravery.

The trip followed on from the squad’s visit to the World War I battlefields in October 2014, where they were educated on the sacrifices made by the Footballers Battalions at war 100 years ago. Wanderers hosted the launch of the Royal British Legion’s countywide poppy appeal for the fifth year running at Adams Park last weekend, while five members of the squad helped the Legion sell poppies in High Wycombe town centre on Tuesday afternoon. 

Ainsworth said: “We have a culture at our club where everyone develops not just as players on the pitch but as men off the pitch, and that comes by gaining a greater understanding of society, culture, history and everything else that helps shape you as a human being.

"It's all too easy for people to categorise football and footballers, often in a negative light, but we try our best to do things a bit different to the norm. It was great to see the players engaged throughout the whole day and I was proud with the professional, dignified and inquisitive way they approached each event throughout the course of the day. 

“For an education on discipline and self-sacrifice for the benefit of others, and working as a team, there’s no better way to learn than spending time with the military. It’s been an eye-opening and extremely humbling day for everyone who came and I'm sure they’ll take a lot away from it.

“This time of year around Remembrance Day is a special time for us as a club, and for me personally, as we have a great affinity for the armed forces and a massive respect for what they do today and have done for us in the past."

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