A team of researchers from the University of Worcester has been commissioned by the Royal British Legion to undertake a comprehensive evaluation the 2023 Invictus Games.

The project aims to provide the Royal British Legion with wide-ranging insights into the extent to which involvement in the Invictus Games programme aids wounded, sick and injured military personnel in their recovery journey.

The sixth Invictus Games is currently being held in Düsseldorf, Germany, and sees competitors from around the world competing in a series of events.

The university’s project team is led by Professor Don Vinson, coaching and performance research group lead, and comprises Dr Emma Richardson, senior research fellow in inclusive sport, Dr Gabriela Misca, senior lecturer in psychology, whose research interests are focussed on military and veteran issues, and Professor Győző Molnár, inclusive sport and physical activity research group lead.

Professor Vinson, said: “We are really excited to undertake this important work on behalf of the Royal British Legion. This work epitomises our interest and passion for inclusive sport which is a key area of research for the University and its School of Sport and Exercise.

“The project also complements the research on supporting military and veteran personnel and their families in their recovery from the visible and invisible combat traumas, an emerging multidisciplinary research theme led by Dr Gabriela Misca from the School of Psychology.

“Although we are in the very early stages of the project, it is already evident that the Invictus Games are so important to the competitors in their recovery journeys. We also know that a sizeable proportion of the UK population is fascinated by the Games and so we’ll be very keen to share what we learn through a series of public events, exhibitions and academic publications”.

The Royal British Legion is currently responsible for the delivery of the Invictus programme for Team UK.

This year, Team UK comprises 59 competitors, six reserves, 11 lead coaches and a whole host of support staff, assistant coaches, ambassadors and medical personnel.

The project centres around the experience of three key groups, namely:

o Competitors – exploring how the competitors’ mental health and wellbeing have been impacted by their Invictus Games experience and how their identity has been shaped;

o Coaches – investigating how coaches are supported to facilitate the most valuable recovery environments possible and how they balance their roles supporting performance and aiding recovery;

o Families – understanding how families are impacted by the competitors’ injury and their recovery journey; and how they support the recovery journey of the competitors.

Dr Richardson has already spent many weekends attending the various training camps with a view to get to know the competitors, coaches, and also many of their family members.

As well as focussing on the journey through to the Invictus Games in September, the project will continue for a further 18 months to help understand the longer-term impact of involvement with the Invictus Games programme.

If you would like to find out more about the project, please email invictus@worc.ac.uk