Colin joined the military as an 18-year-old in 1997 and served in countries such as Afghanistan, Falkland Islands, Iraq and Kosovo.
- Football 4 Forces is part of the club’s commitment to the Armed Forces Community.
- Scheme run in partnership with Wigan Council and supported by Wigan Borough CCG.
- Colin worked for the Parachute Regiment and Royal Engineers.
“Using the Army’s phrase of ‘Be the Best’, Football 4 Forces really is the best and I’m so proud to be part of it all,” words said by 39-year-old veteran Colin Carruthers who has been involved in Wigan Athletic Community Trust’s innovative football and health programme for the past two years.
Colin joined the military as an 18-year-old in 1997 and served in countries such as Afghanistan, Iraq and Kosovo during an extensive career in the Parachute Regiment and the Royal Engineers.
His time in the military ended prematurely due to an accident, meaning he returned to Wigan and joined the Football 4 Forces programme, a scheme running since 2015 with weekly sessions taking place at Robin Park Arena and Wigan Youth Zone.
Supported by Wigan Borough Clinical Commissioning Group and run in partnership with Wigan Council, the scheme is part of the club’s commitment to the borough’s Armed Forces community.
Wigan Athletic Community Trust provide football activities for current and former Armed Forces service people, aimed at improving health and making them feel less socially isolated.
Discussing the scheme and how it has helped him, Colin said: “I joined the military in 1997 and subsequently went to Kosovo, the Falklands, Iraq three times, Afghanistan, Cyprus, Oman and Germany, but sadly had to leave a few years ago as I couldn’t solider on anymore due to an accident.
“I came back to Wigan and saw Football 4 Forces advertised so went along to a session to see what it was all about. I’ve got to be honest and say I was blown away by it all and at just how good it was, so have been going ever since and I really haven’t looked back.
“I often get asked what the best thing is about it all, and for me the answer is I feel part of a community, and that’s massive. I can’t recommend this programme enough.”
The project gives participants the chance to train to become qualified football coaches themselves, with Colin having gained his FA badges since taking part in the scheme.
“I’ve got my FA Level 1 and 2 coaching qualifications and I’m currently in the process of applying for my UEFA B licence qualification, something I wouldn’t have had the opportunity to do if it wasn’t for Football 4 Forces and the support I’ve had from the Community Trust.
“The sessions aren’t all about football though because they also highlight subjects such as nutrition and drug and alcohol awareness, and that’s a big thing because a lot of veterans do come out and go down slippery paths but this programme steers you into not doing anything silly.”
Participants also get the opportunity to become volunteers for the Community Trust, attend Latics games and play football matches against other football clubs and organisations.
“I’m a Wigan Atheltic fan myself so I love representing my club. To wear the Latics badge and to play for the club in a veterans programme is a boyhood dream for me, it really is. What more could I really ask for than apart from actually playing at the DW Stadium every week? Football 4 Forces really has been the best thing that’s happened to me since I left the military.”
Saturday’s game against Rotherham United has been designated to the Armed Forces community, with the club offering two free tickets to current and former Armed Forces service people.
Before kick-off there will be a range of free activities outside the stadium led by different parts of the Armed Forces, while The Red Devils will parachute into the stadium and present the match ball to the officials before kick-off and the Royal Marines will abseil from the East Stand at half-time.
In addition, club Chief Executive Jonathan Jackson will re-sign the Armed Forces Covenant, and as part of this the club agree to continue to back the Ticket for Troops initiative which provides match tickets for serving personnel, support Armed Forces based charities through match day collections and support employees who have spouses and partners in the military.
Wigan Athletic Football Club, Wigan Athletic Community Trust and the DW Stadium are committed to respecting and promoting equality and diversity across all its activities through Together.
Click here for more information about Together.