‘We came back with a better mindset than before’ - Academy youngsters reflect on Christmas Truce Tournament experience

Chelsea Academy U12s enjoy Christmas Truce Tournament experience

Players from our Academy Under-12 age group tell a story of friendship, sacrifice and gratitude after a weekend commemorating the First World War Christmas truce of 1914...

Over a century on from the horrors of the Great War, the enduring impact which teaches new generations about kinship and the futility of fighting continues. 

As part of an annual event organised by the Premier League, Chelsea youngsters once again participated in the Christmas Truce Tournament this winter, a three-day event marking one of the most uplifting stories of World War One, when German and Allied soldiers ceased fighting on the frontline at Christmas 1914.

Artillery shots were replaced by footballs flying through the air as the troops put differences aside in a series of unofficial ceasefires along the Western Front, instead exchanging gifts and playing matches on the boggy battlefields.

These stories of seasonal greetings have been passed down through generations and the spirit of the truce has been captured in the Premier League's annual tournament, which acts as so much more than a football competition.

The event started with a day of education as the boys stepped inside trenches at the Staffordshire Regiment Museum, gave readings and laid wreaths in a service conducted by a chaplain, and visited the National Memorial Arboretum.

'We went in the trenches because we had to have a feeling of what it would be like back in the day for the soldiers,' said Chelsea youngster Jayden, featured in the film above. 'When they told me what it was like, I just thought about the suffering they had to go through.' 

A dozen teams had qualified for the Truce Tournament through an educational challenge, having put together projects on the First World War and how players from their clubs and local areas were affected. 

The boys eventually got down to action at St George's Park, with the young Blues triumphant among their Under-12 counterparts to take home the football prize. However, this experience was about far more than goals and assists. 

'We won the tournament and it feels great,' added Jayden. 'We've come back with a better mindset than before. 

'Having this experience is great - going to the museum, playing here. I've learnt how to take risks, be brave and not put your head down.'

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