“The adventure training and challenges funded by Team Forces introduce new levels of personal resilience. They mean that when you next put somebody in a stressful operational position – be it on a ship, on land or in the air – they’re much more comfortable with the idea of being in unfamiliar surroundings in order to push personal boundaries.” - Alex Nancolas, Senior Project Manager, Improbable Defence
The year was 2005, and Alex was seven months deep in his military service when he and a small team were given their first adventure training assignment. The task: to sail around the Greek Islands for one week – a fairly pleasant job on the surface, it would seem, but one that involved far more than relaxing in the August sunshine.
“The process you went through developmentally involved pulling together a business case to get the expedition funded, work out where the funding was coming from, secure this funding and then come up with a plan,” Alex comments. “Not to mention finding the yacht and the people qualified to sail it, get the diplomatic clearances to be in Greece, execute the expedition and write a report afterwards.
You’re put in situations out of your comfort zone in order to stretch yourself, so if you've never been sailing before, you'll get quite uncomfortable – quite quickly. For our group, whose age averaged 22 years old, all those things you had to do – including night sailing – started to really develop people. ”
This concept of challenge, competition and adventure in providing near-limitless benefits on the physical and psychological well-being of humankind is timeless. It’s one that Team Forces strive to bring to the armed forces community in order to improve health, wellbeing and recovery through experiences like Alex’s.
Improbable is delighted to be a proud sponsor of Team Forces and the work it does in funding sport, challenge and adventure to make each more accessible for serving and veteran personnel. By reducing the cost of participation, both grass-roots activity and elite-level opportunities exist on a larger scale to provide rewarding, transformational experiences.
Launched in January 2011, Team Forces has distributed over £9m to the armed forces community. It operates under the Team Army Sports Foundation, a registered charity governed by a board of senior serving officers and senior industrialists.
Previously Team Ethos, the recent Team Forces rebrand better aligns its armed forces brand with its Team Army brand. An updated strapline resonates with a renewed focus: “Funding military sport and adventure” to help the best get better.
“Delighted to see the change in branding to Team Forces. The fundraising and more importantly support provided to serving personnel and the wounded, injured or sick veteran community by Team Ethos has made a real contribution to the moral component across the forces. It seems right that they are Team Forces to better reflect their support.” - Crossley McEwen, Senior Account Manager, Improbable Defence
Crossley is no stranger to the value of arduous and adventurous pursuits. Whilst serving, he organised 90 Alpinists drawn from the three services to spend two weeks undertaking Alpine climbs. Whilst there were lots of challenges involved in the safe and successful execution of this Alpine meet, he found that the most significant challenge was that of permissions and funding.
“Team Forces has a significant part to play in reducing this challenge, through funds, connections and advice,” he tells us. “This will help the next generation to focus on more exciting and motivating challenges that put our service personnel (serving, reserves and importantly our WIS Veteran Community) front and centre for adventure.”
Through its fundraising, Team Forces is also paving the way for a shift in how insight into personnel is governed. By giving members of the armed forces access to opportunities and experiences they might otherwise not have had, new character and personality traits may be unlocked to truly get the best out of them, and reveal what people are fully capable of.
“At one stage, I was in the infrastructure training centre,” Alex Nancolas tells us. “We aimed to shift the organisation’s mentality from one of simply training soldiers to one that emphasised a high-performance ethos on the way in which personnel were developed.
This meant training and retaining today’s younger generation in a way that is inclusive, meaningful, and diverse. Personnel should have access to environments where they can express themselves and willingly share opinions, so different skills, ideas and experiences are brought to bear – not only in the name of fairness and justice, but also to give organisations a concrete competitive advantage.
Charities like Team Forces give organisations and personnel the opportunity to meet this need, and the means by which to get there.”
These crucial values – inclusivity, adaptability, diversity and relentless humility – reflect Improbable’s own, and we’re delighted to support a cause which strives for the same.