Perse pupil picks up powerful message from Truce Tournament

Lynden Long (Year 7) was delighted to be involved in a special event which combined learning more about World War I and playing top-level football.

The talented footballer recently took part in the Premier League’s Truce Tournament with his Norwich City Academy U12 team.

The focus of the tournament was the Christmas Day truce of 1914 when soldiers from opposing sides laid down their weapons to play a game of football and exchange presents on the battlefield.

As such, players from 12 U12 and U13 teams, representing leading Premier League and EFL clubs, visited the Staffordshire Regiment Museum for a hands-on experience of what life was like for those serving in the trenches.

They then stopped off at the nearby National Memorial Arboretum and took part in a remembrance service for those who died in battle, as well as swapping gifts with players from opposing teams as a gesture of friendship.

The event concluded with a tournament at St George’s Park, the training base for England football teams.

Central midfielder Lynden, who has played for Norwich since the age of seven, explained that his team had to qualify for the Truce Tournament via an educational challenge highlighting friendship.

He said: “At Norwich, we got involved with the Foundation phase (U9 to U11) teams and held a tournament, running after training every Wednesday, where we would mix up the teams. It was all about making new friends, but there was also a nice competitive edge.”

“At the end of that little tournament, we gave a little gift of a furry canary pillow from the U12s to the U9s, U10s and U11s, the Canaries being the nickname of Norwich City!”

Lynden relished the Truce Tournament experience and was one of just two players from across all the teams involved to feature in a special Premier League film about the event.

🗣 “No matter race, gender, whatever it is, we’re all people and we’re all equal”

Under-12s from @ChelseaFC and @NorwichCityAcad learned about the sacrifices of WWI soldiers at the 2021 #PL Christmas Truce Tournament pic.twitter.com/Fmt2YP9uf0

— PL Youth (@PLYouth) January 25, 2022

He said: “It was brilliant but quite emotional to visit the Staffordshire Regiment Museum and see what it was like for those who fought for us.

“At the National Memorial Arboretum, we focused on the poppy memorial and had a nice tour and service there. We also had the rare privilege of being there after dark and it was brilliant to see how it was all lit up.

“We then went to St George’s Park for the tournament. It’s a huge complex and it’s really amazing when you’re playing on the same pitches that England footballers have been on before.”

Unfortunately for Norwich, they lost to Manchester United in a penalty shootout in the third-place play-off, although Lynden scored his spot kick.

For Lynden though, there was an important message to come from the Truce Tournament.

He said: “I’d say no matter what you believe in, we’re all the same. The English and the Germans were separated in World War I, but they were still humans and managed to exchange gifts and be friends when they played football.”

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