Our Academy’s Under-12s have been involved in a variety of activities over the past week to mark Remembrance as the boys prepare to take part in the national Truce Tournament qualifiers this weekend.

The annual tournament involving Under-12 teams from Premier League academies will take place this weekend on Sunday 13 November and it forms part of the Premier League’s ‘Football Remembers’ initiative. Our Academy will travel down to HMS Temeraire in Portsmouth and will look to qualify for the international finals, which will take place Belgium next year.

In preparation for these qualifiers, our young Blues have been involved in the Truce 2022 project ‘Spirit of the Poppy’, which has seen them take part in a number of activities which have the aim of encapsulating the importance of Remembrance.

Among the activities, players from our Under-12s age group were tasked with creating their own version of the poppy and writing poems to reflect on the sacrifice of war. Following this, the group were introduced to graffiti artist Nathan Bowen, who came along to our Cobham training ground to help turn those ideas into a real-life mural beside our main Academy match pitch (pictured top).

The graffiti poppy design has been split into four sections, each with different meanings. A quarter of it represents the world as a sign of respect for all the people that passed away during the war. Another quarter represents the blood shed during the war, with the last two quarters representing the animal lives lost and a sign of equality.

Former RAF serviceman Walter Swan, now a Chelsea Pensioner at the Royal Hospital, was guest of honour for the day along with Rita Orange from the Royal British Legion. Both spent time with the players discussing their experiences and helping with the design of the mural. Walter even grabbed a spray can of his own to join in the painting job!

As the finishing touches were applied in the relentless rain last weekend, Conor Gallagher paid a visit following men's first team training to inspect the work and chat to those involved, as did Lewis Hall, Derrick Abu and Ben Elliott. Hall, who featured this week in the Carabao Cup away at Manchester City, played at the Truce Tournament six years ago.

The mural was unveiled prior to our Under-15 Floodlit Cup tie on the match pitch on Tuesday evening, with those present pausing for a moment's silence before kick-off, the young generation paying tribute to those who gave so much for their freedom.

As we mark Armistice Day this 11 November, Chelsea will remember them.