Former soldiers launch international football fundraiser for military families

The Combined Veterans Football Club will take on an American military team in a friendly, fundraising match next year

A football club formed of veterans is set to take on a team of American counterparts in a special match to fundraise in aid of military families.


The Combined Veterans UK Football Club, which usually plays against UK teams, will compete in its first international fixture in May next year, at Weston-super-Mare’s Optima Stadium.


Aiming to raise at least £10,000 through ticket sales and donations, the money will go to Scotty’s Little Soldiers, a charity that supports bereaved military children and young people by providing access to health and wellbeing support.


Jonathan Farrelly, the CVUK FC Manager organising the match, explained how the impact of Scotty’s Little Soldiers is driving his commitment to making the event a success.


He said: “Unfortunately, grief and loss are common within the veteran community; soldiers risk their lives in service and then face physical and mental health challenges when they return home to ‘normal’ life.


“Losing a parent has devastating effects, but Scotty’s is there to provide everything a child or young adult may need, from driving lessons, courses, and holidays. Their support is endless, and they deserve every penny we can raise.”


The rest of CVUK FC also share this passion for raising awareness for Scotty’s Little Soldiers, and the work carried out by the charity.


Conway Jones, one of the veterans in the UK squad, said: “It’ll be a good, competitive game between us and the American team, but at the end of the day we’re all brothers there for the same thing and that’s fundraising for such an amazing charity.”


For Conway, who now experiences PTSD after 12 years of service in the armed forces, joining the club shortly after it formed last year has given him a valuable outlet and support network.


“It’s a strange feeling, but when I cross the white line onto the pitch it’s an escape – everything else goes away. There’s a shared experience between us all, so being able to spend time with people who just get it is such a help and it’s been great to see the club grow and grow,” he said.


Scotty’s Little Soldiers, which was founded 12 years ago by army widow Nicki Scott in memory of Corporal Lee Scott, estimates that there are more than 1,000 bereaved military children in the UK without access to support.


Scotty’s provides opportunities for children and young adults to smile again through trips, gifts at difficult times of the year, special experiences and educational support. Already this year, the award-winning charity has provided holidays for almost 200 families.


CVUK FC player Rhys Chadwick shared how important it was to support the wider veterans community. He said:


“As an ex-service man myself, I’m really passionate about raising money for Scotty’s and we’re hoping the magic and power of football will get as many people involved as possible.


“When you’re in the forces, it becomes your whole life: working with the same people day in day out you become a family. It can be hard to adjust when you leave, especially if you didn’t have much before. So, football never fails to bring a bit of joy and hope when we need it the most.”


While the team are training ahead of their landmark match versus the US team, CVUK FC also has ambitious goals for more international fixtures, with several military teams from around the globe including Bulgaria, Canada, the US and home nations set to join a World Cup in 2024 in aid of homeless veterans.


Said Jonathan: “We’re really grateful to everyone supporting us, and we’re looking forward to putting on an exciting match!”


To purchase tickets for CVUK FC vs USA or make a donation, visit the JustGiving page.