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Armed Forces reservists took part in match ceremonies for the Football Association (FA) Community Shield at Wembley Stadium on Sunday.
Three reservists - 1 each from the Royal Navy, British Army and the RAF - were tasked with bringing the Premier League, FA Cup and Community Shield trophies onto the pitch before the match.
The FA has a longstanding relationship with the Armed Forces, who regularly assist in match ceremonies for the FA cup and FA Community Shield.
This was the first time that reservists were involved in the ceremonies.
The match, between Manchester United and Wigan Athletic, also marked the FA’s 150th anniversary and David Moyes’ first competitive match as manager of Manchester United.
Ahead of Sunday’s match, Matt Philips from the FA said:
The FA is proud to have a fantastic relationship with our Armed Forces, which includes providing match tickets for serviceman at Wembley Stadium on a regular basis.
We’re delighted that the reservists will celebrating the start of a brand new football season with the FA by contributing to our match operations at the Community Shield on Sunday.
Josh Taylor, 1 of the 3 reservists who carried the trophies onto the pitch, is an intelligence analyst with 600 Squadron RAF. Although his sporting allegiances lie elsewhere, being involved in the ceremonies was a great honour for him:
I am an Arsenal supporter, but my dad is from Manchester so I have always had a soft spot for United.
The opportunity to carry the shield onto the pitch is simply amazing. As someone who has played football since they could walk, games like this one have been recreated endlessly in the back garden and over the park.
Josh has found that being a reservist with the RAF has had a positive impact on his civilian job as a mentor in a school for children with special, educational and emotional needs. He said:
I have found discipline to be something missing from the lives of many of the young people I work with. Being part of a Service that requires self-discipline and has high standards has helped me introduce more structure to young people’s lives and this has had a really positive effect on them.
In terms of the analytical skills that I’ve learnt, this has allowed me to deal with difficult situations in the classroom quickly and effectively, usually preventing an incident.
Sam Batstone from the Royal Naval Reserve also took part in the FA Community Shield ceremonies. He said:
I am a huge football fan and having the opportunity to walk out on the pitch with such stars is a moment I will never forget.
I have been so nervous about dropping the cup or falling over but I am so happy to be representing the Royal Navy.
Sam recently joined the Royal Naval Reserve to gain more from his civilian life and have the opportunity to serve his country. Although new to the Reserves, the benefits of joining are already clear to him:
I have not yet chosen a specialisation but hope to enter the Above Water Force Protection branch as it seems very active, always moving with great opportunities for deployment.
It can sometimes be challenging juggling my civilian life with the reserves but the feeling of attending a drill night or completing a training weekend is irreplaceable.
Carl returned from Afghanistan in late 2012 having completed 6 months service in Helmand province working with 55 fellow reservists from The London Regiment operating alongside their Regular colleagues from 1st Battalion Grenadier Guards.
Under plans to expand the Reserve Forces, numbers will increase to around 35,000 across all 3 Services by 2020.
Have you got what it takes to be a reservist? The Reserve Forces are recruiting now.