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Football Remembers

Bristol Rovers' Tom Broadbent: "The Games of Remembrance is a fantastic occasion and very befitting"

The Bristol Rovers defender discusses the upcoming Games of Remembrance, his time in the Army and Remembrance Week

7 November 2018

It has been quite the journey for Bristol Rovers' Tom Broadbent - from carpenter to labourer, before joining the armed forces to then realising a dream of becoming a professional footballer...

Over a two-week period, the EFL, the Premier League, the FA and the PFA have joined forces under the banner of ‘Football Remembers’ to mark the Armistice Centenary and Remembrance weekend.

Secure your tickets for the 2018 Games of Remembrance Here

The Football Remembers campaign and Remembrance Weekend in general is close to the heart of Tom, having served a tour of duty in Afghanistan in the Summer of 2014, as the country unite to honour those who gave the ultimate sacrifice whilst serving their country.

One of the activities set to take place is the Games of Remembrance, something the Bristol Rovers defender is very supportive of having featured in the fixture in 2016. Inspired by the 'Christmas Truce in 1914', members of the British and German Army face each other, with 2018 marking the centenary of the Armistice and end of WWI.

This year's event is based in the East Midlands on Thursday 8 November, with Notts County's Meadow Lane set to host the Women's fixture at midday, before the Men's fixture takes place at Nottingham Forest's City's Ground later that evening.

"It's a great occasion, especially for the lads who are taking part and those who have done previously," explained Tom.

"It means a lot to all of those taking part - I remember it taking place in 2014 in what was meant to be a one-off fixture, but the success of the event, those who were in attendance and the general feel-good factor allowed it to be repeated each year.

"It is the Army football team that feature in the match, so being involved with the team I was automatically selected to feature in 2016. As with England v Germany, there is always that rivalry, but it is healthy competition on what is really great day.

"Remembrance Weekend in general is a special day for everybody in the country, but being involved in the armed forces can make it more meaningful. It is so important we can remember those who made the ultimate sacrifice, and not just in WWI and WWII, even in the more recent conflicts." 

Broadbent spent 6 years in the Army, serving as a Lance Bombardier with the Royal Artillery in Afghanistan, whilst also being part of the Army's football team.

"I was at a bit of a loose end and wanted to do something that meant something, whilst also having a career as well - that's why I joined the Army in the first place.

"You can't replicate that feeling of going to war, or being told you are going. I do remember that like it was yesterday. It's quite a strange feeling because you can't compare how I felt with those in WWI.

"I felt pretty safe, but I can't imagine they did. They were going knowing there was a huge chance they might not come back, where as for me I knew there was a sense of danger, but I never felt like I wasn't going to come home - that it why it is so important we honour those who have served their country."

Fast-forward seven years, and Broadbent is a key figure in the Bristol Rovers side in Sky Bet League One - his time in the Army football team, with spells at various semi-professional Clubs, has given him the chance to realise his dream of becoming a professional footballer.

"I chose to leave the Army to pursue a career in football. It was one of those I thought I would regret if I never gave myself the opportunity to achieve that - luckily for me it was worked out really well!

"The transition I've found fairly simple. I can understand going from the Armed Forces to a 9-5 office job could be challenging, but the changing room banter within football is as close to what you would get in the Army, so I've really enjoyed my time at the Club so far."

Bristol Rovers will be in action on Remembrance Sunday on November 11, as they travel to Barnet in the FA Cup First Round, and the 26-year old is looking forward to the occasion.

He added: "It will be nice to play on Remembrance Sunday. They'll be some activity going on at the ground and we have a chance to pay our respects whilst on the pitch - hopefully we can progress in the competition as well!" 

Secure your tickets for the 2018 Games of Remembrance Here

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