Charlton Athletic hosts Inter Faith 'Question Time'
As part of Inter Faith Week 2015, Charlton Athletic Community Trust (CACT) hosted a Question Time debate in partnership with Greenwich United at the Valley on Tuesday 17 November.
Greenwich United is an umbrella organisation that brings together a wide range of local groups with the joint aim of ‘helping to build stronger communities’.
The event was well-supported by several groups, including the University of Greenwich. Professor Sian Moore, who teaches at the institution, delivered a speech on diversity and unity, while Charlton Chief Executive Katrien Miere also gave a speech on how the club has embraced equality.
The Royal Borough of Greenwich presented a short film titled ‘I am Britain’ which aimed to show the diversity within the borough, as well as its wartime history, with the story of war veterans told by students.
An informal discussion about the film followed, before a panel of representatives from local faith groups answered a variety of questions.
The panel consisted of Darren Cox from the Metropolitan Police, Colonel John Grinstead, Imam Ali Omar from Greenwich Islamic Centre and the Armed Forces Muslim Forum, Councillor Denise Scott McDonald and Reverend Erica Wooff. The panel discussed the importance of living in a multi-faith society and its meaning, while also generating ideas about combating negative stereotypes of faith and faith groups. The lively audience remained engaged throughout the discussion, adding their own points and driving the session forward.
Charlton Athletic players Franck Moussa and Alou Diarra both appeared near the end of the day, and spoke about their own respective faiths. Franck, who became a born-again Christian in 2009, said: “Faith plays a big role in my life and football is part of that. I see no reason not to include my faith into my football and vice versa.
“God and faith is a constant for me. Faith can affect your behaviour, including the words you use and sometimes you do clash with people and have ideas and beliefs that not everyone agrees with, but days like today show that it is possible to talk about it. Conflict is created when people don’t talk. But if you have an open heart, you can always genuinely and openly explain you actions.”
One of the organisers of the day was Michael Seeraj. He is Head of Equality and Diversity at CACT: “Today is incredibly unique. I don’t know of any other professional football club that has done an event like this.
“It’s a great way to introduce people to the club that have never been before. We work closely with all of the groups represented today and demonstrate that football can be an enjoyable, fun and safe environment to be a part of.
“I hope today will encourage other clubs to something similar. We work closely with other clubs and some of them do great work but I’d like to think that we lead the way on this type of work and we’d be happy to support and advise any other club.”
Rishi Jain, Kick It Out’s Football League Development Officer attended the event and said: “The event was really useful and gave a good insight on faith, football and the community.
“Many football clubs act as the hub of their community and it’s great to see Charlton be so proactive about faith and football, with many fans of the club being as committed to one as they are to the other. We’re looking forward to working with the club in the future.”