Bridge plays host to veterans' charity event

Stamford Bridge hosted an Open Day for veterans’ charity Sporting Force last week as ex-military personnel visited the stadium for a host of activities.

Organised with the help and support of the Chelsea FC Foundation, the participants enjoyed a presentation from Sporting Force founder and CEO Tommy Lowther before tours around the stadium and club museum.

Sporting Force is a registered charity that supports ex-service men and women that have been wounded, injured and become sick during their service and offers them a route into civilian employment within the professional sports industry.

The long-term commitment with Chelsea FC Foundation will offer veterans an employment course funded by the Foundation, coaching qualifications, participation in a veteran’s football team, match day tickets and social events.

Lowther, an ex-serviceman and the founder of Sporting Force said: ‘After four years I was medically discharged out of the military and diagnosed with PTSD. I really struggled with it and didn’t really know what the emotion was. I didn’t understand it.

‘I lost my job over it and that’s when I went for some help. I went to Help for Heroes and it was during my time with them that I come up with the idea, the concept of Sporting Force.

‘Some of the participants here today have gone away and come back with serious mental illnesses, missing limbs and some of them are not coming back at all.

‘Chelsea have been absolutely fantastic and they are really pushing it out. I think if more clubs can sort of grasp it the way Chelsea have, we could really make a difference to hundreds and thousands of veteran’s lives.

‘Everyone is busy and everyone has loads of work to do but for Chelsea to be able to take the time and help those guys out is massive. It’s life-changing.’

Sporting Forces participant Wish Lloyd added: ‘I’ve got a nine-year-old daughter, she is my inspiration and I’m looking to restructure my career for her.

‘I need to get my coaching qualifications, I’ve been teaching sport for the most part of my life and so that’s why I’ve came to visit Chelsea for the Sporting Force session.

‘Sport is a big part of my background, I feel I’ve got natural coaching skills already and so it means a lot to me that I can come and hear that Chelsea FC Foundation can help me get those qualifications.’

For more information on Sporting Force visit www.sportingforce.org.uk/