Equality Inspires programme draws to a close for the 2015/16 season - Part Two
Following on from a series of pilot workshops in 2014/15, Kick It Out and the Premier League launched their educational partnership at the beginning of the 2015/16 season through the Premier League Academy programme – Equality Inspires.
The workshops are delivered to players from Under-11s to Under-21s, as well as academy staff and parents/carers of the players. The aim of the programme is to create a positive environment for all, both on and off the pitch, which is free from discrimination and exclusion, assisting them with their own personal development.
The parent workshops focus on the importance of the appropriate guidance of an Academy player, helping them understand and appreciate the value of support in a positive way and also the impact of negative words and actions.
On Tuesday 17 May, Equality Inspires delivered its penultimate workshops for the 2015/16 season during an afternoon spent at The Harefield Academy, home of Watford Football Club’s Academy. In the second of two pieces, Kick It Out spoke to parents, as well as Troy Townsend, the organisation’s Education and Development Manager and Chris Thurston, the Hornets’ Head of Education and Welfare.
Equality Inspires – Parent/Carer Workshops
Following the completion of the educational workshops with the Academy players mentioned in part one, Troy’s attention turned towards another key section of the Equality Inspires programme – educating parents.
Troy explained the importance of working with parents and guardians of Academy players to aid their developing football careers.
“It’s about the guidance and support they can give to their son(s) on their journeys,” he remarked. “A lot of the focus is not around the parents, so it is important to tool them with certain skills that they will need as guardians of elite players.
“It’s not about their parenting but definitely about an understanding of the challenges, the environment those can bring and also helping to ensure they are supporting their son, in the correct way. I am not quite sure that football has focused on parents as much as it should do – being a parent of an elite player is a massive undertaking.”
The response to the workshops has been overwhelmingly positive – 88 per cent of parents who participated rated the workshop a seven or above out of 10.
Robert Haraldsson, father of one of Watford’s Under-15s, praised the programme and was enthusiastic about its relevance.
“It’s great because this is something parents need to get information about and what a lot of parents are missing,” he said. “This is information that’s helps us go through the things that are negative and positive with our sons.
“This will help the players become better at understanding football and become better people. It is not all about football, it is also about being a human being and knowing the barriers on the way to becoming something.”
Another parent suggested the workshops could have a positive impact on the parents’ behaviour at games.
“I think it will make them think before they act,” she asserted. “Or possibly take a step back. They won’t necessarily completely change everything straight away but they will think twice. I went home and my husband and I had a long talk about it as well.
“It does make you think and triggers things you take for granted or don’t necessarily realise are going on. But I think it is very good to do and it’s another source of information and gives parents an extra bit of guidance that they don’t necessarily have.”
She added: “It is important – it is good that you’ve got it there to be reiterated, giving parents different tools that they wouldn’t have necessarily thought. It’s quite nice to have that there and they do a very good presentation as well. It’s very relaxed which is good and you feel open to talk and say things you want to say.”
From the club’s perspective, Watford were delighted to have parents taking part in the programme for the benefit of all parties.
Chris remarked: “It is massive because if everyone can be singing off the same hymn sheet, it definitely helps in terms of supporting the boys through their journeys.
“What’s been really important and what the parents appreciate from the workshop is the opportunity to speak to Troy – who has obviously been in that situation himself having his son in the professional game – to help them understand their role as parents and how they can best support their son in becoming a professional player.”
Watch interviews with Troy Townsend and Marcus Gayle about the Equality Inspires programme below: