Football Remembers: Theo Walcott Q&A

Image copyright The FA
Image caption Theo Walcott (left), Joe Hart, Gareth Southgate and Roy Hodgson lay wreaths at the National Memorial Arboretum on Remembrance Day

Football Remembers is a joint project between the the Football Association, the Premier League, the Football League and the British Council to mark the 100th anniversary of the Christmas Truce, when soldiers from both sides were thought to have stopped fighting and played football on the Western Front.

England and Arsenal striker Theo Walcott answered questions from Paulet High School Report to explain why the project and Remembrance Day are so important to him.

Q - Do you feel that football brings people together and helps to remember the fallen soldiers?

A - It does. It helps us to remember the sacrifices that all these young adults and families had to make for us to be part of the world today.

When I got to learn the stories, especially the Christmas Truce, it brings it home to you. It is incredible to think that soldiers played football in the middle of the war when others were fighting. It is interesting that football was so important to people even back then as a way of bringing them together. That is why I wanted to be involved.

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Spencer Turner's design was chosen as the winner by Prince William and Theo Walcott.

Q - Why did you consider being involved in this campaign?

A - It was an honour - particularly to be asked to judge the [memorial] competition with the Duke of Cambridge and to have a role in choosing the final memorial out of a competition that was open to 30,000 schools.

It got round down to a shortlist of eight and actually my school, Downs in Newbury, was in the running. So it was tough. I wanted to pick them but I felt Spencer's design was one that stood out. To have the football design with the Allies and German soldier shaking hands within it was really clever.

Image copyright BRITISH COUNCIL
Image caption The winning memorial design by Spencer, age 10 from Newcastle

Q - How do you think that football unites people?

A - You can always see excitement in people and the passion they have for the game. Football is played around the whole world. Everyone knows what football is.

I love the fact my granddad always wants me to do well and always likes to know what is happening in the sporting world. He is 89 but it means so much to him. Things like that show how important football is for all generations and it does bring people together even in difficult times.

Q - Who did you think of during the two minutes silence?

A - All of the people who have made sacrifices for us. I can't imagine those parents who have seen their kids go off to fight for their country. It must be so difficult.

For me personally, we have to be grateful for all of them. In this day and age it is difficult to accept what they must have gone through all those years ago.

Q - Does anybody currently serve in the armed forces from your family?

A - My dad was in the RAF and my granddad as well. I was brought up in a base in Belgium for a little while. My dad was born in a German base so it has always been part of my life.

Q - What did you used to do at school when you were around 15/16 to mark Remembrance Day?

A - I always remember the poppies and everyone wearing them. We would come out of our lessons and go into the playground and everyone would be there from the whole school. We would do the two-minute silence and that is the one thing that stands out when I look back.

Q - What does Remembrance Day mean to you now?

A - It is something that everyone should learn about. I will be letting my little boy know what happened when he is old enough. I would like him to understand it which is why the Christmas Truce story is so special.

Just having a family of my own now makes me think how tough it has been for so many people.

Q - How does it feel to visit the National memorial arboretum?

A - Seeing all the names was pretty emotional. The scariest thing for me was the blank walls [on the Armed Forces Memorial] that will probably have names on at some point.

As long as there is conflicts, it will continue to be like this. People will give their lives. It was a powerful moment.

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