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It’s not just a group, it’s a family!

This week, we are continuing to celebrate EDFN’s More Than Football campaign. One of the ways BFCitC are more than football is through our Veterans Programme. Here is Andy’s story…

‘I enlisted in the Army in 1987, serving for 22 years across various locations such as Germany, Northern Ireland, the 1st Gulf War, Bosnia, Falkland Islands, and the UK. Following a successful transition to civilian life, I now work as a Senior Lecturer (Lead, home-based), conducting online workshop delivery for various high-level qualifications.

Leaving the military in late 2009, joining a veterans’ group was the last thing on my mind. The recent losses of my grandad and mother, coupled with my own PTSD issues, weighed heavily on me, reminding me of dark memories I kept inside.

In 2018, a veteran friend introduced me to a football group for servicemen. It was a kickabout in a small gym at the top of Burnley, and it took me almost three months to gather the courage to step through the door. The staff and team became an integral part of my life, and the camaraderie and friendship continued to grow, regardless of whether players stayed for three months or five years.

This support became more evident when I underwent a hip replacement due to advanced Osteoarthritis in both hips and feet. The continuous support from the BFCitC staff and other veterans, both pre- and post-operation, was invaluable. The coaches guided me through rehabilitation, and now I am fully fit and playing football, albeit a little slower. At least I now know what to expect from the next operation, currently scheduled for my right hip with severe Osteoarthritis.

During my time with BFCitC, I’ve met other “older veterans” from the Monday breakfast club and the Thursday social meetup at Burnley Cricket Club. It’s another opportunity to share stories or simply sit and listen to others.

I titled this experience “Not just a Group, it’s a Family,” which encapsulates its essence. Regardless of service length, rank, or origin, anyone can connect within the group. We speak the same language of respect, commitment, and support one another through personal well-being or welfare issues. By forming this group, BFC in the Community has given veterans an identity, a place to belong, and a family. I hope it continues for many years to come.’

If you would like more information or to get involved in BFCitC’s Veterans Programme yourself, please get in touch with (07934 853 407) or (07714 792 392).