Fans For Diversity rounds off LGBT History Month with 5-a-side tournament at the Arsenal Hub
Over 100 people were in attendance as the Fans For Diversity (FFD) campaign hosted a 5-a-side tournament in celebration of LGBT History Month at the Arsenal Hub on Sunday (28 February).
The FFD campaign, which was jointly launched by Kick It Out and the Football Supporters’ Federation (FSF) in March 2014, is also supported by the Premier League’s Fans Fund. The campaign runs regular events aimed at encouraging and helping with the facilitation of fan-led activity that celebrates equality and diversity in football.
Anwar Uddin, the FSF’s Diversity and Campaigns Manager who organised the day, was delighted with success of the tournament: “It was a really good day – I’m chuffed with how many people turned up to play or watch. It was held in a fantastic atmosphere.”
Anwar also emphasised how happy he was to see such a diverse group of people in attendance, with organisations and supporters groups such as Proud Lilywhites, Gay Gooners, the Homeless FA, the Clapton Ultras and many others all entering teams: “It’s LGBT History Month and we wanted to raise awareness around Football V Homophobia’s (FvH) Month of Action, as well as the work of other organisations like Stonewall.
“But for me it was also really significant that we had so many people from both the LGBT and non-LGBT communities come together and just enjoy the day. There are a lot of events that some organisations put on that only include people from the same mind-set or background, which we wanted to change.
“The whole point of today was to bring different people together and celebrate the same thing and everyone had a fantastic time.”
The day began with short speeches from Anwar and Dave Raval, head of Arsenal’s official LGBT supporters club, Gay Gooners, who encouraged everyone to enjoy the tournament as much as possible and introduce themselves to anyone they didn’t know.
The tournament kicked off with perhaps the most interesting tie of the day – the north London derby between Gay Gooners and the Proud Lilywhites, the official Tottenham Hotspur LGBT supporters group. After a lively, competitive affair, it was the red side of London that reigned victorious, coming away with a hard-fought 2-0 win.
The Gay Gooners kept up their good form for the rest of the competition as they finished runners-up in the tournament, with the FvH team finishing in first place.
With the event being held in support of FvH’s Month of Action, it was perhaps appropriate that the organisation celebrated by securing the FFD trophy with seven wins from seven games.
Reflecting on a busy February, Lou Englefield, FvH’s Campaign Director, hailed the range of groups involved in their work.
“It’s been an amazing Month of Action this year,” she declared. “We’ve had plenty of big professional clubs come on board in a big way and that’s had a huge impact, but at the same time we’ve had lots of fans groups involved such as the Clapton Ultras or the Hawks Ultras.
“We even had the Manchester City Supporters Club make a short film in support of the month, as well as produce a t-shirt that all their members could buy. It was just brilliant.”
Whilst Lou recognised the importance of the tournament in promoting an inclusive environment within football for the LGBT community, she emphasised that affecting change through education is vital in order to drive forward the equality agenda.
“There’s a job to be done at grassroots and there’s a job to be done at junior football,” she said. “One of things that we know is that – particularly in boys’ football – players will start using homophobic and transphobia language around the age of 10.
“So the earlier we can work with young people, and the more positive the message of inclusion we can get those young people, the better the situation will be.”