Wigan Athletic Community Trust football programme for ex-servicemen given backing by Ministry of Defence.
Football 4 Forces provides weekly football activities for working age veterans living in Wigan with the aim to improve their health and help them feel less socially isolated and has been awarded £19,970 from the Ministry of Defence’ s Covenant Fund.
The project, which is also supported by Wigan Borough Clinical Commissioning Group and Wigan Council aims to give 30 participants the chance to train to become qualified football coaches themselves.
Participant Tony Bradshaw, who served in the Army for six years before leaving in 1993, said: “I’ve really enjoyed meeting all the lads who have been through similar experiences and we all got along straight away. The sessions are great and I look forward to attending each week.”
As well as taking part in weekly football sessions, participants get the opportunity to take part in health and lifestyle workshops, become volunteers for the Community Trust, attend Wigan Athletic home games and play football matches against other football clubs and organisations.
Col Phil Harrison, Deputy Commander 42nd Infantry Brigade said: “I am delighted that the Armed Forces have been able to support the Football 4 Forces project through the Covenant Fund.
“The Covenant Fund aims to support projects which create strong local links between the armed forces and civilian communities, have lasting benefits and are able to demonstrate real impact; it is clear that Football 4 Forces will achieve those aims and I wish the project great success.”
The scheme is also backed by Wigan Borough Clinical Commissioning Group, their Chief Officer Trish Anderson said:” “I am delighted that this project has received MoD funding and that the CCG are able to support it.
“We know that veterans are more likely to suffer from mental health issues and social isolation than the general public due to their unique experiences.
“Projects like this are a great opportunity to reduce those risks and give something positive back to our veterans”.
Football 4 Forces is part of Latics commitment to supporting the armed forces community in Wigan and follows the Club’s signing of the Armed Forces Covenant, in partnership with Wigan Council, in 2015.
As part of the covenant, the Club agreed to continue to back the Ticket for Troops initiative which provides complimentary match tickets for the armed forces community, support armed forces based charities through match day collections and support employees who have spouses and partners in the armed forces.
Councillor Paul Kenny, lead member for armed forces in Wigan Borough said: “There are thousands of people in Wigan who have a direct connection with the armed forces and we know that veterans can feel cut off and socially excluded for a variety of reasons.
“By signing the covenant, Wigan Athletic made a powerful statement of support for the armed forces other organisations and businesses in our community can only benefit from.
“The club is a leading organisation in Wigan and their support is hugely appreciated by the military personnel and their families who live in the area.”
For more information about the Football 4 Forces project please contact Wigan Athletic Community Trust’s Men’s Health Co-ordinator Chris Baxter on 01942 488 530 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.