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Football backs Walter Tull


ONE HUNDRED years after his death, the achievements of Walter Tull, the first man of black heritage to become an officer and lead men into battle in the British Army and one of this country’s first black professional footballers will be commemorated through a series of community engagement projects, backed by the governing bodies of football in England.

Born in Kent to a Barbadian father and British mother, Tull was orphaned at the age of eight and spent his formative years in an east London children’s home.

After making his mark as a talented football player, he went on to become one of Britain’s first professional players from a black heritage, playing first for Clapton F.C before being signed by Tottenham Hotspur and later transferring to Northampton Town in the then Southern League.

Abandoning his career and enlisting in the ‘Football Battalion’, Tull rose through the army ranks to become an officer despite the explicit restrictions to promotion at the time. After serving on the Western Front, then in Italy, Tull was killed in action at the second battle of the Somme in March 1918.

The Tull 100 project will be part of the Premier League Christmas Truce tournament. The flagship international tournament for Under 12s takes place each year at Ypres, Belgium, on an artificial pitch created and funded by the Premier League, and involves the young players taking part in a series of educational visits and tours of the area as well as playing academy sides from across Europe.

SIGN OF THE TIMES: A plaque in Tull’s honour

Two of the six teams qualify through an education challenge, four through qualifying football tournaments played across England on Remembrance weekend.

Last year the Academies took part in another Big Ideas project, Passchendaele at Home. In 2018, the education challenge will be the Tull 100 project.

Thousands of schools will also be encouraged to take part in the Tull 100 project through Premier League Clubs’ community schemes and the ground-breaking Primary Stars programme.

Richard Scudamore, Premier League Executive Chairman said: “Walter Tull was an inspirational figure and his achievements are rightly recognised in football and beyond.

“As Britain’s first Army officer of black heritage, and an outstanding footballer, it is important that his story continues to be told and his life commemorated at this important time.

“The Premier League’s support for this programme complements the range of Centenary activity clubs will this year deliver in schools and Academies, including honouring the lives of former players who served their country during the First World War.”

The English Football League (EFL) will work closely with the Tull100 project supporting its nationwide network of clubs and community trusts to take an active role in ensuring there are “No Barriers” to inclusion and diversity in modern-day football. In addition Northampton Town will be taking a leading role in local commemorations for their celebrated player.

English Football League Chief Executive, Shaun Harvey said: “Walter Tull was an extraordinary individual and his story is deeply rooted in the heritage of the EFL through his career at Northampton Town, with the Walter Tull memorial proudly positioned at Sixfields stadium.

“It is important that his life continues to be recognised and the EFL therefore is proud to commemorate his achievements at this landmark time, coming one hundred years after he lost his life during the second battle of the Somme."

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