The ‘Fans for Diversity’ campaign, jointly launched by Kick It Out and the Football Supporters’ Federation in March 2014, has helped with a number of supporter initiatives which aim to promote diversity and inclusion across the professional and non-league game.
Below are reports from a collection of the events and initiatives funded by the ‘Fans for Diversity’ Fund in 2015.
The Choir With No Name bring festive cheer to Everton
The campaign provided funding to The Choir With No Name, a national choir consisting of people from the homeless community, to perform at the Toffees’ clash against Leicester City.
The Choir serenaded fans prior to the match at the Everton Fanzone with a number of festive songs before they were invited to enter Goodison Park to watch the game.
Despite the feel good atmosphere the choir provided it didn’t prove to be a successful day for Everton on the pitch as they lost 3-2 to the Foxes.
Speaking after the event, Anwar Uddin, lead on the Fans For Diversity campaign, said: “With choirs in London, Birmingham and Liverpool, we thought it’d be nice to get them along to a game.
“We spoke to Everton who liked the idea too and brought some of that Christmas spirit ahead of their game against Leicester City. Social problems come in all shapes and sizes and we have a Fans For Diversity fund which helped cover some of the costs while Everton were also great,” Anwar continued.
“They said thanks to the choir for performing in the Fanzone by giving them some match tickets which really made their Christmas as there are some massive Everton fans in attendance.
“There were also a few Liverpool fans too, although they didn’t wear the blue and white Santa hats! Overall it was a great day with a real festive feel.”
Sunderland disabled supporters play match at the Arsenal Hub
The day out was made possible following the receipt of funding from the Fans for Diversity Fund.
The trip saw the group travel to London to face the Arsenal in the Community group in two competitive 5-a-side football matches.
In the friendly games were played in a great spirit, with the football being played a sportsmanlike way.
The Sunderland team consisted of players from Hopewood Hospital who take part in the NHS Exercise Therapy Group sessions, delivered by Foundation of Light coaches as part of the Disability Development Fund.
After the friendly, the group then made their way around the corner to the Emirates Stadium to watch, in their words, “the second most important game of the day” as Arsenal took on Sunderland in the Barclays Premier League.
One of the Foundation of Light players commented, “I’ve had a brilliant day…It has lifted my spirits and given me an experience I would never have had. Thank you Foundation of Light!”
Chris Reay, Foundation of Light Coach said: “A huge thank you to Arsenal in the Community for being such brilliant and hospitable hosts. The group were absolutely fantastic and once again a pleasure to take away.
“The football they played was good, and worthy of the end results. Days like this allow us to see the impact of the sessions and I’d like to thank the Kick It Out Fans for Diversity Fund for making the trip possible!”
Read the full report of the event from the Foundation of Light here.
Black History Month celebrated at FC United of Manchester
National League North club FC United of Manchester supported Black History Month by creating poems and banners with help from the Fans For Diversity campaign.
Over 200 local schoolchildren were given the opportunity by FC United to create poems and banners in October which will be displayed at FC United’s stadium, Broadhurst Park, for the rest of the 2015-16 season.
The schoolchildren involved in creating the pieces with visit Broadhurst Park to view their pieces on display at the ground.
The initiative, which aims to encourage inclusion among FC United supporters, also featured a diversity workshop from Anwar Uddin in November 2015.
Andy Cheshire, Community and Education Manager at FC United of Manchester, was delighted how Fans For Diversity helped engage the club with young people.
“It was a fantastic example of how a football club can engage with young people in the local community and demonstrated FC’s commitment to promoting a message of equality, inclusion and diversity.
“Without the funding offered by Fans For Diversity, we would never have been able to do the extent of the work we did.”
Inaugural Non League Day roadshow launched
The campaign travelled over 500 miles across two days visiting National League sides Aldershot Town and Boreham Wood, as well as Worcestershire based Bromsgrove Sporting and Yorkshire based Sheffield FC.
The first stop on the roadshow was Meadow Park, home of Boreham Wood, before heading to South West to visit Aldershot Town.
A long trip north followed to the next stopping point of Sheffield FC, the World’s oldest football club. The final stop on the roadshow was the Victoria Ground, the home of Midland League Division One Bromsgrove Sporting.
You can read a full report of the initiative here.
New guide created for Colchester United supporters
League One club Colchester United, together with the Fans for Diversity Campaign, launched a brand new supporters guide that enhances the match day experience for all U’s fans, ahead of their dedicated Kick It Out game against Gillingham on Saturday 19 September.
Supported by the Fans For Diversity Fund, the guide aims to provide Colchester fans from all backgrounds more information on how they can visit the Weston Homes Community (WHC) Stadium.
The guide gives extensive information for disabled supporters about accessibility of the WHC stadium, as well as further details about the Fans For Diversity campaign.
The guide also provides all U’s fans with important contact details and information relating to their matchday experience. The guide has been made available for free for all U’s fans in the club shop and also at the Colchester United community facility.
Southampton FC disabled supporters host biggest annual open day
Over 400 people attended the Southampton Disability Supporters’ Association (SDSA) annual open day at St. Mary’s Stadium, as they received support from the Fans for Diversity fund.
The event, which was the fifth annual day SDSA has held, was a celebration of the club’s disabled supporters. The day saw a number of fun activities take place including a penalty-shoot out competition, a Fans for Diversity stall among others and a stadium tour.
Fans for Diversity helped with the promotion of the event to Saints supporters, with over 5000 flyers produced and handed out at Southampton matches.
A number of Saints stars, past and present, also attended the event to show their support towards the SDSA including former manager Laurie Mcmenemy, and playing icons Francis Benali and Matt Le Tissier.
England Under-21 international James Ward-Prowse also visited the event ahead of the Saints trip to FC Midtjylland in the Europa League, as he spoke to young fans in attendance.
With a record number of people attending the annual day, Paul Lucas, Secretary of SDSA, was delighted to receive the support from Fans for Diversity.
You can read the full report of the event here.
Family Fun Day held at Heybridge Swifts
Essex-based Swifts held a family day at the Texo Scraley Road Stadium ahead of the clash against League One Colchester. The event included fire-eaters, stilt-walkers and activities for children including face-painting and hair-braiding. There was also a race between the mascots of both clubs, Heybridge’s “Streetly” and Colchester’s “Eddie”, and youth players from the two teams accompanied the first-team players onto the pitch.
The day was supported by the ‘Fans for Diversity’ fund, which helped Heybridge produce special t-shirts, balloons, flags, vinyl banners and pitchside boards, which will be used throughout the season, to show their support to diversifying matchday crowds.
You can read more about the event here.
Shapla fasting event raises awareness during Ramadan
Fans For Diversity helped to support Shapla FC’s fasting awareness event, held during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.
In the shadow of Bradford City’s Coral Windows stadium, Shapla held an event that brought together the Bradford City Supporters’ Trust, the local police, West Riding County FA, Kick It Out and the FSF, as well as the local community.
All were given a presentation on the links between Ramadan and football, as well as some statistics on the month before breaking their fast (Iftar) together. A late-night game of six-a-side football was played at a local pitch in Bradford before the commencement of the next day’s fast.
Anwar Uddin, the FSF’s Diversity and Campaigns Manager was pleased to have taken part: “Fasting, no matter what time of the year, is hard. From personal experience, I know it is incredibly difficult.
“For people to do this for the entire month and go about their normal lives at the same time is something that requires intense discipline and focus.
“I learned a lot at the event. I’ve had teammates who fasted during the football season, and through my own experiences, as well as theirs, I feel closer to understanding the sacrifices people make. I’d like to pass my thanks to Shapla, the Bangla Bantams and everyone involved in what was a brilliant event that brought the community together.”
Punjabi Wolves Supporters cultural day
The ‘Fans For Diversity’ Campaign supported the Punjabi Wolves Supporters in their first ever Punjabi Cultural Day, which took place at the Molineux Stadium on 18th April 2015.
In association with Wolverhampton Wanderers FC and Wolverhampton University, the day gave supporters a great insight into the Punjabi culture and the history and tradition behind its now well know supporters group.
Sporting Bengal spend the day at Wembley Stadium
The young academy players, aged between 11-13, were joined by coaching staff and parents as they took part in an all-access tour of Wembley and a football related education session.
The day of activities was organised by the ‘Fans for Diversity’ campaign, which is run in partnership between Kick It Out and the Football Supporters’ Federation (FSF).
To start off their day at Wembley, the young players and staff from Sporting Bengal were given a tour of the ground. During the tour they learned about the history of English football at Wembley, including some of the famous FA Cup finals as well as the Three Lions’s World Cup victory in 1966.
Following on from the tour, the players went to the FA Learning Zone for an afternoon of educational based activities. The children learned about the various teams who represent England and the diversity of players and coaches across the national game.
You can read a full report of the event here.
Shapla Football Club and Bangla Bantams supporters group launched
The day consisted of football and education related activities to promote inclusion in Bradford.
Representatives from Kick It Out, the FSF, West Riding CFA and Bradford City were involved in delivering the event which saw over 100 children take part in three activity sessions. These included a football training session inside the community centre where the children played in highly competitive matches in a friendly environment.
An education session was delivered by Hayley Bennett, Kick It Out’s Education Officer, and Rishi Jain, Kick It Out’s Football League Clubs Development Officer, which focused on understanding equality and inclusion, as well as how the children can to start recognise and celebrate difference. Finally, a tour of Bradford City’s Coral Windows Stadium was took place, giving children a unique insight into the club’s ground.
The launch was concluded with Troy Townsend, Kick It Out’s Education and Development Manager, and Humayun Islam, co-founder of Shapla Football Club, addressing everyone in attendance on the importance of creating a new generation of footballers in Bradford.
You can read more about the event here.
Tonbridge Angels host 'Season of Action' fixture
Kick It Out linked up with Non League Day for the third year running in September 2014 and has been building a stronger presence at non-league level to promote equality and the importance of challenging all aspects of discrimination throughout the game.
There was a range of activities undertaken on the day with all the players from Tonbridge and East Thurrock wearing ‘Fans for Diversity’ t-shirts during the pre-match warm-up, and fans presented with anti-discrimination materials such as flags, badges, stickers and wristbands and magazines. Special arrangements were also made to provide funding for a learning disability team from Maidstone to travel down to face their Tonbridge counterparts on the pitch prior to the first-team fixture.
Dame Kelly Holmes, the double Olympic champion and a Tonbridge resident, gave her backing to her local club and the ‘Football is for Everyone’ concept. She said: “I was delighted to hear that my town’s top football club Tonbridge Angels were holding a ‘Football is for Everyone’ day to highlight that a person’s age, gender, race, ability or sexual orientation should not be seen as a barrier to participating in sport which brings so much health, development and integration to all those who participate.
You can read a full report of the initiative here.
Proud Lilywhites host week of activity
Proud Lilywhites, the official LGBT fans’ group for Tottenham Hotspur, hosted a number of events in February 2015 to mark Kick It Out’s ‘Season of Action’ and Football v Homophobia’s (FvH) ‘Month of Action’.
The Proud Lilywhites kicked off the week-long activity by beating the Gay Gooners in their first annual pub quiz before both sets of fans took to the field as they met in a 5-a-side match at the Frederick Knight Sports Ground in north London.
Saturday was Tottenham’s dedicated ‘Season of Action’ fixture against Arsenal, and Proud Lilywhites and Kick It Out are hosting a stand containing leaflets, sweets and stickers in Tottenham Square on the south-west corner of White Hart Lane.
You can read a full report of the week here.
Dagenham and Redbridge unveil special ‘Fans for Diversity’ mural
League Two side Dagenham and Redbridge unveiled a special ‘Fans for Diversity’ mural, paying tribute to an iconic moment from the club’s history, prior to their dedicated ‘Season of Action’ fixture against Cheltenham Town on Saturday 31 January.
With the aim of inspiring the future fans and players, supporters were encouraged to suggest key moments to depict on the Barking and Dagenham College Family Stand as part of a project run through Kick It Out and the Football Supporters’ Federation’s (FSF) ‘Fans for Diversity’ campaign.
Daggers supporters made a range of suggestions but ended up deciding on an image of Steve Thompson MBE, the club’s Managing Director, celebrating their victory over Rotherham United in the League Two play-off final in 2010 with players Anwar Uddin, Mark Arber and Jon Nurse.
The image was spray painted onto the stand demonstrating the diverse nature of the squad at the time with Uddin, the first British Asian to captain a Football League side, South African born Arber and former Barbados international Nurse all playing a vital role in gaining promotion to League One.
You can read a full report of the initiative here.