Boro’s Under-12s will travel to Ypres, Belgium, and take part in a prestigious Christmas Truce tournament as a reward for their project on the Spanish Flu pandemic.
Our Academy youngsters have been working hard on a meaningful and thoughtful project on the influenza pandemic, which followed the end of the First World War in 1918 and infected as many as 500 million people.
The project included extensive research and learning about the history of Spanish Flu. This led to the Under-12s organising an awareness campaign called ‘George’s Flu-Fighting Friends’, targeting supporters at Boro’s recent first team match against West Brom, with the help of healthcare professionals from Childhood Immunisation Team for Durham, Darlington, Teesside and the Harrogate and District Foundation Trust.
The youngsters also conducted a presentation in late October to a diverse audience at Rockliffe Park including BBC Tees radio and former servicemen.
In addition, two U12s laid a wreath before the match at home to Fulham on Saturday October 26 in tribute to those who lost their lives to the Spanish Flu. Among that number was Middlesbrough-born Private Albert Beckett who fought in the First World War, with two more of our U12s also laying a wreath at the former soldier’s grave on the same day.
The 16-strong team of U12s will now travel to Ypres-based club KVK Westhoek to take part in the Christmas Truce Tournament in early December, one of six English clubs attending alongside the likes of Marseille, Paris Saint-Germain, Hertha Berlin, FC Cologne as well as Belgian sides Anderlecht and Club Brugge.
It is the second time our Academy will take part in the tournament after our Under-12s previously worked on a project on the Battle of Passchendaele which was voted the best in the country, while last year’s diversity project on Walter Tull finished in the top four.
It is not the only occasion our Academy will be represented on the continent in the coming weeks - as one of three pilot clubs involved in a project surrounding the Holocaust last season, MFC have been asked to attend a remembrance service in Germany.
Two of the boys who took part in the project as U14s last season, Joel Holvey and Charlie Lennon, along with members of the Academy's education team Barry Dawson and Norman Willey will attend, alongside distinguished guests including the German Federal President Frank-Walter Steinmeier.
There will also be an opportunity for the boys and staff to visit Hertha Berlin’s academy during the weekend visit.