How does Altrincham FC engage with the Armed Forces
Based in Greater Manchester, Altrincham Fc are a professional football club that currently play in the Vanorama National League. They started to develop their ties with the local veteran community back in 2018.
A local veterans organisation Trafford Veterans CIC, approached Altrincham FC Community Manager, Simon Dow, with a view to strengthening the ties between veterans and local sports clubs.
Since then, their relationship has gone from strength to strength, with the club and its fanbase taking their local veteran community to heart.
Simon Dow tells us more about the ways they have been able to provide resources that local forces members can benefit from. One of which was registering Trafford Vets CIC on the Alty For All Scheme, which sees companies and individuals buying discounted Season tickets to donate to a charity of their choice.
“Donating some season tickets to Trafford Veterans CIC was one way we felt we could support the charity and its various users.
The season tickets enable veterans to attend the matches free of charge and provides them with the opportunity to engage with the club”. Simon-Altrincham FC Community Manager
Claire of Trafford veterans CIC feels that the season tickets are more valuable than the club realises.
“The armed forces is a community in its own right and when people leave they still often want that sense of belonging. Football is another community that they can be a part of whilst still spending time with fellow veterans” Claire-Trafford Vets
Providing The Armed Forces Community With A Home
Often local organisations are in need of premises for regular events and Altrincham Football Club soon realised they could make good use of one of their rooms by offering it to the veteran’s organisation on a monthly basis.
This monthly get together has become a popular event with the attendees and is run in a relaxed style with activities and food available. Having an indoor facility means the veterans can continue to benefit from each other’s company even in adverse weather conditions. This reduces feelings of isolation during colder months, particularly for older veterans.
“The monthly support meetings are a fantastic initiative and one that we really wanted to support. Providing the room is a small way that we can support the brilliant work that goes on”.-Simon Dow
Claire and Chris of Trafford Veterans were delighted when the football club very generously offered to give them some permanent advertising pitch side.
“Anything that increases our visibility in the community and helps us to reach more veterans is really helpful. There are people that benefit from our services who might not know we existed if it wasn’t for Altrincham FC promoting us to the football community”- Claire Wright
Simon goes on to give an example of the Altringham supporters getting involved with Trafford Vets,
“We were delighted to support the Trafford Veterans Ukraine appeal at the start of the conflict, we were one of the designated drop off points for medical supplies, sleeping bags, clothes, toiletries etc. The response from our fan base and user groups was amazing, but the big credit goes to Claire & Chris for organising it all and making sure the supplies go to where they needed to go”.
More Armed Forces Support
Trafford Veterans CIC is not the only armed forces community that benefits from the generosity of the club and its fan base. They are also avid supporters of Help For Heroes
A different charity is authorised to collect donations at each home match and Alty Fc have a planned for Help For Heroes on 1st April 2023 when Altrincham play Notts County.
Both Trafford Vets and Help For Heroes are assigned a match this season to promote their cause and this also includes promotion in the match day programme. Mentions in programmes helps the charity message reach more homes and potentially support more veterans in the community.
We spoke to Rhys Edwards, Area fundraising manager for Help For Heroes about this.
“Help for Heroes are excited to be invited to collect at the Altrincham FC ground and look forward to attending the match in April.
Help for Heroes believes those who serve our country deserve support when they’re wounded. Every day, men and women have to leave their career in the Armed Forces as a result of physical or psychological wounds; their lives changed forever.
The Charity helps them, and those still serving, to recover and get on with their lives by providing physical, psychological, financial and welfare support for as long as they need it. It also supports their families because they too can be affected by their loved one’s challenges.
Help for Heroes receives almost no funding from the Government, which means it relies on the spirit and generosity of the great British public, its partners, and volunteers to keep going. It has already supported more than 27,000 people and won’t stop until every wounded veteran and their family gets the support they deserve. You can find out more and support us by visiting Our Website.“
Remembrance Day 2022 was commemorated when Altrincham FC played York City on the 12th of November.
Trafford veterans sent along representatives of the forces to lay a wreath on the pitch ahead of the match, and they were also supported by flag bearers and a bugle player.
The following day, the wreath was placed on the local cenotaph as a mark of respect for all the lives affected by conflict.
The players sported kit that featured the poppy in a mark of Remembrance, with the silence observed impeccably throughout the ground. All usual opposing fan banter is forgotten in these moments where football fans stand shoulder to shoulder on the same side. The side of respect.
Community manager Simon Dow clearly feels that the commitments they have made to their local veteran community are long term, as the benefits are numerous not only for those in the armed forces family, but for the football club too. We will be checking back with Altrincham Fc next year to see how this amazing relationship is developing.
If you would like to help in any way with Altrincham FC Community projects then email Simon on email@example.com
For contributions to Trafford veterans contact Claire on firstname.lastname@example.org
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It was World Mental Health Day recently. As the tweets and inspiring messages filled the social media airways we knew we had to speak to someone in the world of football and the forces that focussed on mental health EVERY DAY. Military Minds FC are a prime example.
Forces Families Form Military Minds FC
3 close friends, David Owen, Ryan Davies & Kyle King, are all from armed forces families. They wanted to give ex-military personnel a chance to meet and share their common experiences, whilst raising awareness about the importance of mental health. Realising they could also tie this in with a charity that was close to their hearts, they made a pledge to raise money for Help For Heroes.
“We all have a passion for football and helping people so we thought why not combine the two together and help spread awareness for a great cause”- Ryan
Military Minds FC Find Players And A Home
After drumming enough players up through word of mouth and social media, they entered a league and secured a training ground at Llandudno FC. The lads were pleased to find they had valuable support from Rhys Lane.
Rhys is the Football Operations Director at Llandudno FC and he willingly assists Military Minds FC with fixtures, fundraising and generally passing on his experience to Ryan and his squad.
“Military minds have, In a short time, shown they are committed to the cause of supporting their community. Their team and training sessions are running with over 40 in attendance. I know they have plans for great things in the future, both on and off the pitch with counselling and job training sessions. As a club, Llandudno FC feel that this is really important in today’s society and where possible will be supporting them going forward”-Rhys Lane, Llandudno FC
The importance of this supportive community built by 3 best mates becomes clear when speaking with members of the squad.
Meet Some Of The Military Minds FC Team
Lee Dudley served with the 1st battalion Welsh guards. He joined the army in 2009 and left in 2014. In 2012 Lee was deployed to Afghanistan for 7 months during Operation Herrick. When he left he was diagnosed with PTSD. Lee found out about the Military Minds Football Team on Facebook.
“They were so welcoming. I started going to training sessions and then got into the team. The team means a lot to me and especially to the back room staff, Ryan, Kyle, Dave and Ste. This football team is going places. It helps me and definitely helps others. I can open up and talk to anyone in the team. When I’m playing football with Military Minds I feel like I have no problems. The banter and the looking out for each other is just like in the army” -Lee
Military Minds FC may have its roots in the armed forces but their door is open to any male upwards of 18 years old. The focus on mental health helps men who have no forces background, who also need support and comradery. James Boulton is a great example of how this football team reach people outside of the veteran community.
“I joined Military Minds in June after a change in job and some mental health struggles. This has been one of the best things I’ve done. Not only does it help with my mental health it impacts my physical health. As someone who suffers from social anxiety it’s helped me make new friends. Having the outlet of football on a Monday and games on a Sunday gives me something to look forward to each week. It starts my week in a positive way”-James
Echoing his team mate Lee Dudley, there is an obvious feeling that this is the beginning of something even greater.
“This team is going places. There is an ever-growing community presence. With the plans in place, Military Minds FC are going to continue to support military vets, along with people like myself who have had mental health issues”- James.
Parliament Learns Of Military Minds Football Team
Military Minds FC have made an impact on the pitch and in their community. It is of no surprise then to find they have impacted at parliamentary level. The team and their objectives were mentioned at Parliament by MP Robin Millar.
During a speech regarding well established Armed Forces organisations and charities, Robin singled out Military Minds FC as one to watch. Recognition at such a level can only help to spread the important message of Military Minds FC.
“ On Saturday I had the extra pleasure of meeting a new initiative—the Military Minds football club. The founders—David Owen, Ryan Davies and Kyle King—and I sat together in Llandudno. They have set up that new charity football club to help veterans, and I have no doubt that this initiative will provide support in the months and years ahead. As someone who is passionate about football and about supporting our armed forces and veterans, I will follow their adventure with interest.”-Robin Millar
The team are also receiving support from their fellow footballers within their league. Their Just giving page has words of support and encouragement along with donations from other teams and is heart warming to see.
Mochre Vets donated and added “Great charity, and a great cause. We had the pleasure to share the same pitch as them last Sunday but come out 5-3 losers. But it’s the charity that counts”
Who Sponsors Military Minds FC?
Veterans football teams are often sponsored by veteran owned businesses. In this case the main sponsor is a veteran, a player and a member of the backroom staff. As far as getting stuck into something goes. You cannot get much more committed than this!
It was great to have input from Ste Carulli-
“As a soldier I served 10 years in the British army where I was a Corporal in the 2nd Battalion The Duke of Lancaster’s Regiment. I completed 2 operational tours of Afghanistan. A tour of Cyprus as Theatre Replacement Battalion and 1 tour of the Falkland Islands as the Resident Infantry Company. When the opportunity presented itself to become the club’s main sponsor I jumped at the chance. This team is everything that SC Safety Training believe in. The core values within each member of Military Minds FC speak for themselves. Week in week out, from every training session that happens, no matter whether they win, lose or draw. Every player is held in the highest regard and we will continue to support this team for the foreseeable future”-Ste
Another squad member is Kevin Seymour. Like many people who have been in the forces for a long period of time, he struggled to adjust to life outside of the forces.
“Having spent most of my naval days aboard ship and as part of the Royal Navy MMA squad I know what it’s like to work as part of a team. So, when I decided to leave the forces I found it hard to get back to civvy street. Joining this team has helped me rediscover the joy and benefits of working with likeminded individuals who understand what it’s like to be a bit different from the average person” Kevin
Kevin served in the Royal Navy and was part of Op Telic, Op Calash, Op Atalanta and EU NAVFOR Somalia.
More Missions For Military MInds FC
Despite all back room staff and manager of Military Minds FC having full time day jobs, along with their football commitments, they still find time to help those in their local community.
When a local armed forces breakfast club lost its venue, Military Minds FC spoke with Llandudno FC and they stepped in to give the breakfast club a new home. This takes place at Llandudno FC every Sunday morning from 9am till 11.30am. Breakfast club is a place to have a warm meal and a chat with fellow armed forces veterans. Those wanting to attend can simply turn up on the day to enjoy being with other people that have served in the forces.
AVFBC, Llandudno FC and Military FC see this as the start of creating more opportunities within the football and forces network.
“It was brought to the club’s attention that following the pandemic, the breakfast club was without a venue. Military Minds approached us with a proposal to bring the club to Llandudno FC. We were delighted to welcome to the club and really hope that along with Military Minds FC we can continue to support the breakfast club, and local veteran community, for the long term”-Llandudno FC
Military Minds Captain Ryan Williams
Captain of Military Minds FC, Ryan Williams, spent 6 years in The Royal Engineers, 39 Regiment. He completed a construction tour of Kenya, where they built facilities for struggling communities. His sense of community has certainly prevailed.
“Joining this team brought back a sense of military camaraderie, and it’s another place to be with fellow veterans with the same understanding of humour, lifestyle and situation. It’s brilliant for lads who are struggling with mental health issues. We are a group of people who support other through any struggles. I’m extremely proud to be the captain of this group of men who are there for each other through thick and thin”- Ryan Williams
Finally, we asked Co-Founder Ryan Davies, if there was a defining moment that made this collective effort worthwhile.
“There are too many incredible moments for me to decide.The progression from individuals and the bond we all have makes it hard to pick. As a club it’s special. There have actually been a couple moments where I’ve had a tear in my eye on the side of the pitch from that moment of magic, or when everyone’s gone and I’m in the changing rooms on my own I sit down and reflect. I’m actually proud of everyone involved. “-Ryan Davies
Throughout speaking to this fantastic group of men they have consistently used the same phrase, one which we hope you as a reader can take with you into your own pursuits.
Together We Endeavour
We would like to leave you with the JUST GIVING LINK for Military Minds FC in the hope it will generate more funds for their cause Help For Heroes. You can follow the lads on Twitter @military_fc and follow us @terracestroops
Do you have a football and forces story to share? Get in touch with us HERE
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Former Royal Green Jacket Reservist and avid QPR fan Mark, is on yet another challenge to raise funds for veterans charities. This time taking on a running challenge in aid of Help For Heroes.
We caught up to talk about his Grandfathers imprisonment as a Japanese POW. His love for all things QPR, his time as a RGJR and the charitable work he has continued to do for Veterans.
Royal Green Jacket Reservist-6 years
Back in 1993 Mark was a Reservist Rifleman in the 4RGJ out of Central London. He volunteered for 3 years Then like so many other people, he stepped forward again in 2001 at the start of the Afghan conflict and did another 3 years in the 5RRV out of Milton Keynes. This was a Royal Green Jacket company in a combined battalion.
Terraces and Troops
We chatted about football supporters within the forces
England games were always a bit of a raucous affair .Like anywhere there was always a lot of banter about club football. More so in 4RGJ due to its Central London location. A mix of just about every football team being supported meant a lot of inter club banter but always light hearted unless- your team had just been mauled. In 5RRV out of Milton Keynes it was less so, probably due to it being before poor old Wimbledon got moved and relocated.- Mark Peel
As a Reservist, Marks weekends were spent training in case they were called up for active duty, so he never got the chance to play football. He did however enjoy playing prior to making a commitment to the 4RGJ Res.
I did play a lot of football away from the Reserves though. I was a goalkeeper from youth levels through to Sunday league with Milton Keynes Sunday. I had the privilege of playing at Loftus Road and Wembley as a kid which as a QPR fan was magical.
A Way Of Life
Like many of us, Mark was brought up in the way of life, with both his Dad and Step-Dad taking him along to QPR games from an early age.
My very 1st QPR game is a bit of football history. September 1st 1981. I was a 5 year old attending QPR vs Luton from the Ellerslie Road stand. It was the 1st game in EFL history to take place on astro turf. We used to call it the plastic pitch. Like so many days and games since then, my 1st taste of QPR football was fraught with distress at a loss.
One of Marks most sentimental matches was going to Wembley to watch QPR beat Derby in the play off finals. Not only was this a fantastic result but a testament to his close relationships with his family.
That was alongside both my Dad and Step Dad, both of whom had seen the QPR V West Bromich final in 1967 (before my time).
Family Military History
We touch on why he continues to fund raise for Veterans, and its clear that his family military history has had a big impact.
My Step Dad was a Royal Fusilier and one of the last generation to do National Service. He served during the Suez Canal Crisis. My Grand Dad served in WW2 and was unlucky enough to be take prisoner by the Japanese. Luckily he made it home in the end. There’s a mixed bag of other service amongst the whole family
So what about your latest fundraising challenge?
I chose Help For Heroes as the challenge they are doing (move 100 miles in September) tied in with my attempt to get fit again. I decided to pledge to do the entire thing as a running challenge over the course of the month. I had previously done a sponsored walk for H4H and also a ‘Britains Bravest Military Challenge’ for Royal British Legion Industries. Pretty much any fundraising I do is for military support charities. As a Veteran it’s something close to my heart. I am lucky as I have all my fingers and toes still, even if my hearing is a bit whack. But many of the guys and gals don’t and I feel its only right to give back when I am so lucky. I genuinely believe our service personal, both young and old deserve so much more support than they get.
You can support Mark by visiting his link and Making A Small Donation Here, or simply by sharing this article on your social media platforms, website or even mailing list. It would be great of you could share this within football and veteran organisations.
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