To celebrate the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games, the National Army Museum is delving into the essential relationship between sport and the Army.
Sport has always played an important role in the British Army. It has been used to prepare soldiers for active service, both mentally and physically. It has also served to boost morale, develop ‘esprit de corps’ and rehabilitate the wounded.
Sport has had a significant impact on Army recruitment and retention. The sheer variety of sports on offer to soldiers has certainly helped to encourage enlistment, with sport often cited as a major motivating factor behind a career in the Army. Many recruits have gone on to compete at the highest level, resulting in a host of Army sporting heroes.
The Army has been involved in establishing many of the recreational activities we know and love today. It has also helped to spread sports such as cricket, rugby, hockey and football throughout the world, where they have been used to build links with local populations and win ‘hearts and minds’.