This Autumn, young players at Premier League Academies were challenged to celebrate Walter Tull’s life and champion his legacy in their communities for a chance to play at the Premier League Christmas Truce tournament.
Twelve Premier League Academies entered the competition: Brighton & Hove Albion, Chelsea, Crystal Palace, Fulham, Manchester City, Manchester United, Middlesbrough, Newcastle United, Tottenham Hotspur, Watford, West Ham United and Wolverhampton Wanderers.
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All of the submissions were outstanding, from letters and poems, to workshops and tournaments. The judges said that the work exceeded expectations and they commented on how difficult it was to choose the winners.
Two teams, Watford FC and Wolverhampton Wanderers, earned places at the Christmas Truce tournament – the flagship international tournament in Ypres, Belgium.
The Truce tournament is an opportunity for U12s from Premier League Academies to commemorate the famous Christmas Truce between British and German soldiers during the First World War. On 25 December 1914, soldiers from both sides stopped fighting to exchange gifts and play football on the battlefield near Ypres.
Truce Tournament and Ringing Remembers workshop
In December, the winning teams joined other qualifying teams in Ypres. Ahead of the matches, they took part in a Battlefields Tour and a Ringing Remembers workshop in St George’s Church in the centre of Ypres. The church was chosen as it was built by the British troops at the end of the war and has a newly-constructed bell tower made possible by fundraising efforts by the Central Council of Church Bell Ringers.
During the bell ringing workshop, the young boys took part in a quiz, a creative drawing activity, and then learnt how to bell ring – each dedicating their ringing to a footballer from the First World War.
Some commemorated Walter Tull, while others learnt about the footballer-ringers from Edington that died, leaving the tower silent after the war.
The winning teams were awarded No Barriers medals at a special reception in Ypres by Director fo Football at the Premier League, Richard Garlick.
The Premier League made a video following Watford FC on the trip. You can watch it by clicking here.
“We were honoured to take part in this special Ringing Remembers event in Ypres in memory of the Bell Ringers of Edington who played in local football team and sadly died in the First World War. Ringing the Bells in St George’s Church was a totally new experience for our young players – who come together each December to play at the Premier League Truce Tournament – and it brought together two worlds in a really enjoyable and meaningful way. Thanks to Louise and the team for making it happen!”
Martyn Heather, Head of Education, Premier League