Blues Academy players stepped up their pre-season preparations with a gruelling army boot camp last week.
Sixteen first-year and second-year scholars were put through their paces by Sgt Paul Hall from the 37 Signal Regiment Army Reserve Unit. And the academy staff didn’t get out of it – they had to join in too! Players and coaches alike were pushed to the limits and beyond over two torturous days.
The group got an insight into true army life as they swapped all of their civilian attire for army fatigues, Bergen backpack and weapon – they were even forced to leave their beloved mobile phones behind!
The back-to-basics venture included constructing their own plastic shelter, numerous marches, assault courses and evading-capture exercises – and all that before a tea-time of meagre rations, which they had to cook themselves on a stove, before spending the night under the stars. The following morning’s activities involved a trip to the range for some shooting practice – with rifles, not footballs!
But that wasn’t the end of their exertions for the second day as the players returned to their more familiar surroundings of a pitch at nearby Stone Dominoes FC for a training session before heading back to Birmingham.
All in all it was a most testing but also enjoyable couple of days, as lead academy coach Steve Spooner explains: “It was organised through a friend of Bob Brown (Blues’ local recruitment officer). It’s the first time we’ve done something like this and it proved very worthwhile. It was primarily a team-building exercise and a step-out of their comfort zone for the players. It was good to seeing how individuals coped under pressure when they had to fend for themselves and work together.”
Spooner added: “The army instructors were very impressed with the attitude and application of our lads. It was mixture of fun and hard work and something that we might look to do again in the future.”
The 37 Signal Regiment are an Army Reserve Unit based in Redditch, with Sub-Units in Birmingham and Coventry. Anyone interested in joining their ranks, should call 01527 599324, email: 37SR-RHQ-ROSO@mod.uk, or visit them (Kohima House, Winyates Way, North Moons Moat, Redditch, B98 9PJ) in person on Tuesday evenings between 7.30pm and 9.30pm.