A Peace Letter to Football
National Children’s Football Alliance (NCFA) is in the process of organising Football & Peace Projects and we request the support of professional football clubs.
It was nearly a century ago that young men from different nations were set against one another on the battlefields of Flanders. But over the Christmas period of 1914, a remarkable event took place – German and Allied soldiers stepped out of their trenches, shook hands and agreed a truce and in order to momentarily escape the horror of war they took the opportunity to revert back to childhood and ‘play’ football in its simplest form… friends, a ball and jackets for goalposts.
There is a natural link between children’s football ‘play’ and what happened in no-man’s land that Christmas. It is the same football that has been played by children for generations in the streets, fields, parks and playgrounds of every country around the world.
“Play football and games. Encounter other people from round the world and realise that strangers are friends waiting to be discovered. The world needs peacemakers. It needs us all to step out of our trenches and cross the No Man’s Land of ignorance, prejudice and violence. By doing so, we will discover, as the soldiers of the Christmas truce did, that we are all brothers and sisters on a small and vulnerable planet. Peace-making today is about building friendship. And sport is a wonderful bridge to building a better world.”
Don Mullen (Patron – the National Children’s Football Alliance)
The Football & Peace Children’s Programme
Inspired by the story of the Christmas Truce football games; the NCFA are in the process of raising funds to co-ordinate projects for groups of young people to go over to Flanders to take part in the centenary commemorations and celebrate this act of peace during the 2014 anniversary.
In essence the aim is to bring children together from across multi-cultural Britain and Ireland to play football with children from Europe and the rest of the world with a powerful, thought provoking educational programme linking the lessons from the past with the realities of the present, delivered in no small part through the medium of football. To this end NCFA are currently in discussions with the PeaceVillage in Messines for the venue and are in partnership discussions with several organisations across Europe for their input and participation.
If this programme is successful then the NCFA will be looking to set up a sustainable educational project for children from the United Kingdom and all over the world to visit the PeaceVillage (or other designated venue) and engage in inclusive age appropriate football and educational workshops, through a Football & Peace Children’s Week.
The NCFA has teamed up with the Royal British Legion and through the Centenary Partnership has the support of the Government in making this project a reality.
“For the Royal British Legion the project would be seen as an exciting new activity that would help engage children and support their educational programme through the medium of football.”
Charles Byrne, Director, Royal British Legion.
“The Government is encouraging the widest possible participation in the centenary commemorations and is particularly keen to engage young people through the medium of sport. As such, they have welcomed this contribution to the centenary programme.”
Helen Grant MP, Minister for Sport, Tourism and Equalities.
For the same reasons it was suggested that [you] might wish to support the Football & Peace Children’s Programme.
With the above in mind we would therefore like to ask you to assist us by paving the way for us to arrange a bucket collection at the football clubs within your sphere of influence on Boxing Day 2014 accompanied by a minutes silence in commemoration of the Christmas Truce, if possible starting 2013.
The Bucket collection would be led by the NCFA (arranged and managed by us using volunteers from NCFA and Cadets) and the proceeds would go towards delivering the Football & Peace Children’s Programme for 2014. Alternatively, Football & Peace collection buckets can be placed in ticket offices for an agreed period of time where members of the public can make a donation.
Subject to the success of the Football & Peace Children’s Programme in 2014 we would also like to begin discussions for this to be repeated in future years to provide a funding stream for the Football & Peace Children’s Week.
We would be very grateful for your initial response at your earliest convenience and, in the hope of the response being positive, some possible times and dates for us to meet with the appropriate person to discuss how we can take this forward.