Fred Hargreaves OBE, deputy director of UK Invictus Games Delegation at UK Ministry of Defence, talks local expansion with Access.
What prompted expanding into more localised events?
I’ve been doing Invictus for three years, but military and disabled sport for 12 years, so I have the disabled sport in my DNA. Demand has gone up and up from people who want to go on the Invictus journey, whereas opportunities to be in a global team have gone down. Sheffield will host the first national games for British wounded, injured and sick veterans and personnel, with the Invictus Team UK Trials Sheffield, 22-26 July 2019.
Over five days, 470+ competitors, will take part in up to nine sports. We wanted to offer more British service men and women to experience the games. It’s about families, mental health, rehabilitation, employment. We introduced an arts component too.
Is Prince Harry involved?
He is focused on the Global Games, and has to be, but he has been to all our Trial events each year. Because it’s MoD focused we have a great relationship with the Palaces. He’s invited and we’ll know in a few weeks if he’s able to come along.
Is the Invictus model exportable?
The concept certainly is. Canada is doing a similar thing in 2021, and America runs Warrior Games where Invictus came from. I’ve designed a model, a briefing pack for other nations saying ‘this is what the UK does, this is how much it will cost, etc’. Each nation will approach it differently. Germany for example get all activity paid for governmentally.
You must have been delighted when Invictus took off?
Yes, I was there with Prince Harry in 2013 at the Warrior Games where the idea was spawned, so I have a history.
Did it look like it was going to happen at that point?
[Laughs] No, no. But having just seen London 2012, we knew that the Paralympics had changed society’s perception of disability from one of sympathy to one of understanding and admiration. Harry steered the conversation more towards mental health. If it’s ok for brave veterans to talk about their mental health challenges, it’s ok for police, firefighters, and people in society.
Can you measure altruistic impact?
Yes. In fact, I was writing a report on this. The effects on athletes, friends, family, sponsors, charities, communities, schools. It’s all metrifiable, but you have to set the metrics before the event.