July 19th 2017

Footballers Thomas and Scott have a ball with the Cadets and Reserves

Hodges team pic

The Air Cadet Corps team with Thomas Hodges pictured in the back row fourth from right

Whatever your age, joining the cadets or Reserve Forces can open up a number of opportunities for sportsmen and women.

That’s something that keen footballers 18-year-old Air Cadet, Flight Sergeant Thomas Hodges and 46-year-old Reservist Scott Taylor have found, despite there being a 34 year age difference between the two.

Thomas, who is 18, is just starting out in senior football and is the captain of the Derby County U19s Development Squad which is part of the club’s community initiatives.

As well as playing for a representative team for the club he supports, he’s also been able to further his footballing experiences to the Air Cadet Corps’ national representative team through his membership with the 1360 (Stapleford and Sandiacre) Squadron of the Air Training Corps.

The attacking midfielder and set-piece specialist, said: “I got through to Corps level by performing well at the previous competitions competing at tournaments and being successful with both South and East Midlands Wing and Central and East Region while taking on the other wings and regions in the county.

“Being a part of the Corps team has given me the opportunity to play with a whole range of great football players while making life-long friends.

“It also gives me the chance to play against tough opposition which helps me improve massively as a player overall.

“Just being selected for the corps team means that I am part of the best football players in the whole Corps, which in itself is one massive achievement for me and something that I am very proud of.”

The corps play a number of teams throughout the year. Recently, Thomas scored in a 6-0 demolition of No 1 Radio School at the Defence College of Aeronautical Engineering.

Thomas has been with the Air Cadets over four-years and is delighted with the Air Cadets as a whole.

He said: “Being an Air Cadet has honestly been one of the best things I have ever done. I have experienced things that I never thought I would do and to the best of my ability.

“Being an Air Cadet really has opened up so many opportunities to me from meeting new life-long friends to being part of the biggest 75th anniversary parade at RAF Cranwell escorting the Banner of the Air Cadet Organisation.

“Air Cadets has made me a better person in all the things that I do. It has boosted my confidence and has allowed me to gain qualifications that will help me in my future life.”

Scott Taylor in the red of the RAF

Scott Taylor in the red of the RAF

While Thomas has his best football playing years ahead of him, Scott Taylor, is enjoying extending his career further while being a part of the RAF Reserves.

He played to a very respectable level as a semi-professional with the likes of Cambridge City, Stamford, Grantham, Lincoln United and Banbury as well as a spell with Geilenkirchen in Germany.

Scott was in the regular air force for 26 years. He’s now a RAF full-time reservist with HQ Intelligence Reserves, based at RAF Waddington.

Football was a huge part of Scott’s life in the regulars and that’s continued as a reserve. He now has the honour of captaining the RAF’s Veterans team having also captained the regular side.

He said: “I’ve been involved with RAF football since 1992/93. I represented the RAF and Combined services as a regular and retired from football about nine-years-ago before becoming a veteran player (football for those aged over 35).

“The Veterans team started about 2009 and it is now proving a big success.

“We were successful in the inter-services this year in March. We drew with a very young and fit Army side away at Aldershot and we beat The Navy at home in Cosford. Captaining the side in those were very proud moments.”

Scott now works full-time as part of the recruitment team at  Headquarters Intelligence Reserves based in RAF Waddington and he uses the experiences that playing football in the reserves has provided him to highlight the opportunities becoming a reservist provides.

He said: “The sporting potential for reservists is absolutely something that can attract people to become a reservist.

“If you look at our fixture list over the next year we’re representing RAF veterans at various places around the UK from Liverpool to Cardiff, North of Scotland, London, Plymouth as well as travelling to Cyprus for the Akrotiri Sevens competition.

“There’s plans afoot for an end of season tour to Hawaii in 2018 – so why wouldn’t you want to promote it?

“In my time playing football, I’ve had fantastic opportunities with the RAF travelling worldwide including Hong Kong, Thailand, New Zealand, Washington DC, Calgary, Edmonton and South Africa. Representing the RAF in a foreign country provides a great sense of pride.

“Now all RAF Reservists can compete and represent the Force or whichever service, in their chosen sport, be it football cricket, tennis, badminton or horse riding. There’s lots of different variations and sports and activities that people can undertake.”

As well as potential tours to Hawaii, Scott’s had access to excellent training facilities through the RAF team at they regularly train at Liverpool FC’s Melwood training area and negotiations are ongoing for them to take part in a celebrity match to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the RAF next year.

Scott Taylor at Ibrox, he's pictured on the far right of the front row

Scott Taylor at Ibrox, he’s pictured on the far right of the front row

There was also the chance for Scott to go on the pitch in front of 50,000 fans at his beloved Glasgow Rangers FC’s ground Ibrox.

He continued: “We took the applause as part of Armed Forces Day. There were also sombre moments including carrying a large poppy wreath on to the centre of the pitch before a game on Remembrance Sunday.  It was a very proud and poignant moment.”

“In my time playing football, I’ve had fantastic opportunities with the RAF travelling worldwide including Hong Kong, Thailand, New Zealand, Washington DC, Calgary, Edmonton and South Africa."