‘When you play sport you stop talking about your injuries’ – Sheffield marks 100 days until Team UK Invictus Games trials

Sheffield has marked 100 days to go to the Team UK Invictus Games Trials with a sitting volleyball friendly at Ponds Forge.

Wednesday, 10th April 2019, 7:03 pm
Updated Wednesday, 10th April 2019, 7:19 pm
A sitting volleyball match between Team UK and Sheffield Volleyball Club.

The trials – which will take place in the city between July 22-26 – will be the first ever national games for wounded, injured and sick veterans and personnel.

The event will also serve as a qualifying tournament for the next international Invictus Games in The Hague next May, where Team UK’s best will take on injured service personnel from across the world.

The Minister for Defence People and Veterans Tobias Ellwood with Team UK and Sheffield Volleyball Club.

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Minister for Defence, People and Veterans, Tobias Ellwood, was present to greet the teams ahead of the match and also took the time to address and thank Team UK partners including Help for Heroes and The Royal British Legion.

He said: “I am so pleased for Sheffield. I was last at Ponds Forge for the World Student Games so to see them being used for the Invictus trials is fantastic. I do hope people and sponsors across Sheffield will get involved and support the project.

“We have the international event in The Hague that of course we are looking forward to but I hope anybody who competes in the national event here will go away thinking they have enjoyed it and learned about themselves.

“That is what it is all about, not so much the winning but about recognising there is life after events that happen in the armed forces. These are people who are discovering more about themselves, that there is another chapter to their lives and that is absolutely brilliant.”

The Minister for Defence People and Veterans Tobias Ellwood at Ponds Forge.

The friendly – which finished 2-0 to Sheffield – was a chance for Invictus Games athletes past and present to show off their skills and have some fun.

One of them, Bernie Broad, aged 52, from Glossop, served in the army for more than 20 years before captaining Team UK at the Invictus Games in Toronto in 2017.

After being severely injured by a bomb in 2009, Bernie’s left leg was amputated the year after followed by his right in 2013.

“When I left the army I started to put on weight and get demotivated so I decided I needed to refocus on being a good citizen,” he said.

“When people play or train for sports they smile a bit more and the light in their eyes is a bit brighter. That is all because of this support.

“I was only because of Help for Heroes that I started to have things to look forward to like sport and trips out.

“I then got involved in the Invictus Games and captaining the team in Toronto was when I knew I was back.

“Now I want to thank the people who made it happen for me, give something back and make it happen for other serving personnel.”

Another, Paul ‘Twitch’ Twitchell, aged 45, from Telford, was in the Royal Airforce for 22 years, including serving three tours of Iraq with the bomb disposal unit.

Twitch said the Invictus Games have helped him get over mental health issues that date back to his time in the forces.

He said: “There was lots of trauma there but instead of seeking help when I should have, when I came back I hit the drink.

“Eventually I became an alcoholic and 10 years later was diagnosed with post traumatic stress disorder.

“I am able bodied and I play with people who have lost arms and legs. But when you train or play you stop talking about injuries.”

“At the Sydney Invictus Games it was spectacular. Everything was laid on for us and we were treated like superstars.”

The games will see up to 500 sportsmen and women and their friends and families come to Sheffield to select athletes to compete in Holland next year.

At the last Invictus Games in Sydney in 2018, Team UK won 72 medals and recorded 138 personal bests, competing against 17 other nations with a team of 72 athletes.