Millwall Community Trust are using a new £10,000 grant from the Sky Bet EFL Building Foundations Fund to launch a Military Veteran Football Programme that aims to recapture camaraderie that is often lost when Veterans leave the armed forces.

The Championship side is one of more than 60 EFL clubs to share in the new Sky Bet EFL Building Foundation Fund supporting community work in football.

Launched in April, the initiative provides ex-military service men and women from across London an opportunity to participate in free football sessions at Millwall Community Trust’s indoor Lions Centre 3G on Saturdays.

The opening session saw over 20 veterans attend; the day starting with a five-a-side football match and a complimentary buffet before the group made their way to The Den to watch Millwall host Cardiff City.

The programme also intends to work with ex forces charities and support agencies and provide wrap around education, employability and health and well-being support for all its participants.

Millwall Community Trust’s Education and Employability Manager, John Scarborough added: “It’s a fantastic initiative from the Sky Bet Building Foundation Fund to provide us the seed funding needed to get this programme off the ground.

“A massive thank you to Military Veteran Football Club - without them this football programme wouldn’t be possible, and they were able to help us identify that there was no 5-a-side football provision for veterans in London and the South-east.

“Working together we now feel we are able to provide and fill that gap with weekly football sessions as well as additional IAG support and partners coming into work with these Veterans to provide the holistic offer.”

David Bygate-Pittiglio, Chairman of Military Veteran Football Club said: "We are very passionate about offering military veterans a safe space to come together in an environment where they will not be judged. There is a unique camaraderie that is often lost once you leave the armed forces and to be able to return to it as-well as play football is truly invaluable.

"John (Scarborough) got in touch with us and explained how Millwall Community Trust had been successful in applying for the Sky Bet EFL Building Foundations Fund and that he would love it if we would consider being involved. Listening to John’s obvious enthusiasm towards offering veterans in London and the southeast, access to sessions that have been experienced by hundreds of others around the country made it a no brainer for us to start a partnership with him and his team.

"We as a football club very much look forward to the future success of this session and would like to thank John for contacting us and to Sky Bet and the EFL for the fantastic support.”

The Sky Bet EFL Building Foundation Fund provides grants to benefit community programmes ranging from tackling isolation and loneliness, to improving fitness and mental health, increasing participation in sports or to invest in better football facilities for the local area.

All bids are assessed by a panel of industry experts including talkSPORT Breakfast Host and Sky Bet ambassador, Jeff Stelling.

Sky Bet visited the Lions Centre to capture the Military Veteran Programme welcome session and speak to members of Millwall Community Trust and participants about the impact the programme has on the local area.

It features the five-a-side football match and ex-service men and women sharing their personal stories about what the programme means to them.

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