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Friday 09 May 2014

Football bodies unite to mark centenary of Christmas Truce

Educational pack for schools to help teach about the Truce and competition to design memorial

Chelsea and Belgium forward Eden Hazard launches the Football Remembers pack with two Chelsea Pensioners and a football from the First World War at Stamford Bridge

The Premier League, Football League and The FA have joined forces with the British Council to create Football Remembers, a national commemoration supported by The Duke of Cambridge, that will mark this year’s centenary of the Christmas Truce, one of the most iconic moments of the First World War.

Every team in the Premier League and Football League, as well as all 24 England sides will mark the centenary, right through to the grassroots, with every FA-registered club, County FA and UK primary and secondary school being asked to join in a series of activities between now and December 2014. Any football team in the UK and around the world will also be welcome to participate.

"It promises to be a powerful way to engage and educate young people about such an important moment in our history"
HRH Duke of Cambridge

The first two activities are launched today with the aim of engaging a new generation of young people about what took place on Christmas Day, 1914, in Flanders. The four partners have launched a Football Remembers education pack that will be sent to more than 30,000 schools across the UK through the British Council. It includes resources to help children learn about the Truce, including eyewitness accounts, photos, drawings and letters from soldiers, some of which have never been published. 

The pack includes perspectives from British, French, Belgian, German and Indian witnesses and is accompanied by written activities for English, modern foreign languages, drama, art, sport, history, moral education and conflict resolution.

The Duke of Cambridge, who is president of The FA, is also backing another Football Remembers project. Schools and Football Academies are being asked to design a memorial to the football played during the Truce. The permanent memorial will be built at the National Memorial Arboretum, in Staffordshire. The winning design will be chosen by the Duke and by Arsenal and England forward Theo Walcott. The memorial will be unveiled in December.

“The British Council, together with The FA, Premier League and Football League, have put together a tremendous resource for use in the classroom and at home," HRH The Duke of Cambridge said. "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."

Premier League Chief Executive, Richard Scudamore, said that the Football Remembers schools pack and the permanent memorial competition would be excellent additions to the Christmas Truce story.

"Football has a unique place in the history of the First World War and it is appropriate that the modern game should come together to commemorate," he said. "At the Premier League we have seen how the Christmas Truce can fire the imagination of young people.

"Football has a unique place in the history of the First World War and it is appropriate the modern game should come together to commemorate"
Richard Scudamore

"Since 2011 we have held an annual football tournament for Under-12s in Ypres that helps educate young players about football's place in the history of the First World War. That is why we have committed to building a new community 3G pitch in Ypres, because it is important to create a sporting and cultural experience that lasts beyond the Centenary."

The British Council's chief executive, Sir Martin Davidson, called on every school in the UK to get involved. 

"For a brief moment in history, the Christmas Truce showed how people-to-people connections can triumph at a time of global crisis," he said. "This year's centenary is a valuable opportunity for a new generation to learn about that historic moment and the First World War more widely – the consequences of which continue to shape the world today, and the way in which people overseas view the UK."

FA chairman Greg Dyke was part of a visit made by representatives of the Englsh game to Footballers' Battalion memorial in northern France last month.

"I saw at first hand just how much a part football played in the First World War," he said. "The scale of the loss is unthinkable and it is only right and fitting the game comes together to pay tribute to those that made the ultimate sacrifice. By bringing the story of the Christmas Truce to life for a new generation, we can also remind how football can be a positive force in bringing people together - even at the worst of times."

The Football League's chief executive, Shaun Harvey, highlighted the sacrifice made by many professional footballers during the First World War.

"The forthcoming centenary gives us the opportunity to mark the extraordinary sacrifice made by millions of people of all nationalities during the Great War," he said. "They include many people that were connected with our clubs and competition from players and administrators to referees and supporters."

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