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Children from Pent Valley School in Folkestone and Thamesview School in Gravesend mark 1914 Christmas Truce with Belgian schools through football


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Young footballers from two Kent schools took part in a tournament in Folkestone today to mark the centenary of the First World War Christmas Truce.

More than 70 pupils from Pent Valley School in Folkestone and Thamesview School in Gravesend and two schools from Belgium were taking part at the Three Hills Sports Park.

The event has received royal backing from Prince William, president of The FA, and is part of the Football Remembers project by the British Council, The FA, the Football League and Premier League.

Youngsters observe a two minute silence and the Last Post. Picture: Three Hills Sports Park
Youngsters observe a two minute silence and the Last Post. Picture: Three Hills Sports Park

Children from Provinciall Technisch Instituut in Kortrijk, east of Ypres, and the Middenschool Van Het GO! in Ypres were also invited.

Ypres was decimated during the war and was in German hands when the Truce took place at nearby Ploegsteert, some 15km to the south.

Commemorations are taking place all over Europe as football marks the anniversary.

Uefa president Michel Platini last week unveiled a new memorial to the memory of the men who took part in the memorial. The KM also remembered the role Kent played.

The tournament started after the children observed a two minute silence and the Last Post.

The schools are currently working together in a European Funded Comenius Regio project “EASIER – Facing the Great War” where the students from the two countries are researching their shared history of the Great War.

Pupils will then exchange gifts in homage to the events of 100 years ago in the trenches.

Teams getting ready for the tournament. Picture: Three Hills Sports Park
Teams getting ready for the tournament. Picture: Three Hills Sports Park

They will receive a copy of The Black Football Heritage Book by Jim Cadman, which features Walter Tull, a Folkestone war hero who played professional football for Tottenham and Northampton.

The students have been learning about the Christmas Truce with the help of a Football Remembers education pack, which more than 30,000 schools across the UK received in May.

Mario Citro, headteacher at Pent Valley Technology College said: “We feel very proud as a sports academy to be taking part in such a special event especially because we are in a town like Folkestone which has such a rich association with the First World War.”

Harry Ingham, headteacher at Thamesview School said: “Being involved in Football Remembers has been a great opportunity to involve our students in a cross country project.

"Our students really appreciate getting to know fellow European students. The poignancy of the anniversary and the importance of peaceful communications have been crucial aspects of the project and will enable our young people to gain a thoroughly global perspective.”

HRH The Duke of Cambridge, President of The FA said: “We all grew up with the story of soldiers from both sides putting down their arms on Christmas Day, and it remains wholly relevant today as a message of hope over adversity, even in the bleakest of times.”

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