Football is to commemorate the centenary of one of the most iconic moments of the First World War – the 1914 Christmas Truce football match – with a week of remembrance activity in December 2014.
‘Football Remembers Week’ will take place from 6-14 December. A collaboration between the Premier League, The FA, the Football League and the British Council, its aim is to engage football fans about what took place on Christmas Day 1914 in Flanders, Belgium.
Among the activities taking place in Football Remembers Week are:
• A Moment in History
o For the matches that take place in the Barclays Premier League, the Sky Bet Championship and the FA Cup Second Round from December 6-8, all 22 players who start the match will pose together in a group photograph as a mark of respect to those that played in the 1914 Christmas Truce match. The pictures will be uploaded to a special website.
o Fans, teams and schools will be asked to upload their pre-match pictures to the same site via social media over the course of Football Remembers Week. Any match of any size can be uploaded, from school to Sunday league fixtures, five-a-side matches to kickabouts in the back garden.
o The site shall act as a moment of record of football in 2014, a century on from the First World War, and will be preserved for future generations.
• Christmas Truce Memorial unveil
o The UK’s first memorial to the Christmas Truce will officially unveiled.
o The newly commissioned memorial, designed by a ten year-old Newcastle schoolboy as part of nationwide competition (see below), will reside permanently at National Memorial Arboretum in Staffordshire.
• Christmas Truce International Tournament in Ypres
o The Premier League has held this annual tournament in Ypres, the home of the Christmas Truce, for U12 footballers since 2011.
o This will be the first Christmas Truce International Tournament to be played on a new 3G pitch that the Premier League has gifted to the city of Ypres.
o Ten teams will play in the tournament: two each from the Premier League, German Bundesliga, French Ligue 1, Belgium Pro League, and one each from Scotland and Austria
o To commemorate the sacrifices made by soldiers from around the world there will be a community tournament made up of players for Premier League Kicks projects at home and around the world.
o An educational and culture programme accompanies the tournament as the players visit the site of the original Christmas truce site, Commonwealth and German war graves, preserved trenches and lay wreaths at the Last Post Ceremony at the Menin Gate.
• UK Parliamentary Reception
o To raise the profile of Football Remembers among Parliamentarians, Dan Jarvis, Labour MP for Barnsley Central and a former Major in the British Army, is hosting a reception at the House of Commons.
Football Remembers kicked off in May 2014 when the four partners launched a Football Remembers education pack that was sent to more than 30,000 schools across the UK. It includes resources to help children learn about the Truce – including eye-witness accounts, photos, drawings and letters from soldiers some of which have never been published before.
A key element of the Football Remembers education pack was a competition for schools and football academies to design a permanent Christmas Truce memorial for the National Memorial Arboretum. The competition was judged by HRH The Duke of Cambridge – President of The FA – and Arsenal and England forward Theo Walcott.
The winning design was drawn by 10 year-old Spencer Turner from Farne Primary in Newcastle. The school is in the shadow of Newcastle United’s St James’ Park. Spencer was told by Newcastle United players Steven Taylor and Adam Armstrong that his design had won at special school assembly on Thursday 2 October.
Theo Walcott said: “I was truly honoured to be part of the Christmas Truce Memorial schools competition with HRH Duke of Cambridge. The standard of entry was incredibly high and I enjoyed looking at the designs and even seeing one from my old school too! Huge congratulations to Spencer whose design was very impressive and brings to life this moment of peace through football in wartime.”
An Exhibition of the 33 shortlisted entries is currently on display at St George’s Park, having originally been shown at the National Memorial Arboretum.
Other Football Remembers activity taking place between now and the end of 2014 includes:
• Christmas Truce Tournament qualifying competition, 14-16 November – U12 teams from all 20 PL clubs will come to Ypres in a qualifying competition for Christmas Truce International Tournament. This tournament is usually held in England, but for the 100th anniversary of the Christmas Truce all the teams are heading to Flanders for a weekend of education and elite football. The two teams that reach the final will represent the Premier League in the December tournament.
• Football Remembers poster design competition with the National Football Museum – Young people are invited to create posters telling the stories of footballers who fought in the First World War and send them to the National Football Museum in Manchester https://schoolsonline.britishcouncil.org/classroom-resources/football-remembers/find-a-footballer
• International fixtures – England footballers will also be supporting the Football Remembers project during their international get-together in November ahead of the men’s fixture with Scotland on 18 November and the women’s historic Wembley match against Germany on 23 November.
• The FA and the Army FA – are working on joint activity involving their counterparts in Europe.