Getting community in Bradford to participate in football thanks to Fans For Diversity
Humayun Islam is one of the co-founders of two projects in Bradford which have increased participation levels of football within the South Asian community, thanks to the Fans For Diversity fund.
Humayun has helped setup the Bangla Bantams, a newly formed supporters group for League One club Bradford City and Shapla Football Club.
In an exclusive blog for Kick It Out, Humayun explains how the campaign and its fund helped him encourage the community to get actively involved in football.
Bangla Bantams is a multicultural supporters group based in Bradford that aims to develop support for Bradford City within the local community, based on the doorstep of the ground.
The reason why we started the Bangla Bantams was to get more young people from the South Asian community to get more involved in supporting football in general and not just Bradford City.
Where we’re situated, we are just a stone’s throw away from Bradford’s stadium so it makes sense to get the community involved and getting them to attend matches in a safe environment.
What we wanted to do was to break down the barriers and that’s why Bangla Bantams was created.
What we thought this could do is encourage people from the community to also participate in football, because if you’re going to go and watch a match you’re also more than likely to want to play football as well.
So effectively it went hand-in-hand to create Bangla Bantams and Shapla Football Club. What both do is create that buzz of a football environment but also it stops anti-social behaviour, which shows Bradford in a positive light, which perhaps isn’t always the case.
You hear a lot of negative things about the area but what I wanted to do was shine a light and highlight the positive stories that are happening in Bradford amongst all communities.
Our meeting with the Fans For Diversity campaign was by luck really. Anwar Uddin, who runs the campaign, actually came to us and mentioned what he does and how he can help progress Shapla and the Bangla Bantams and we thought, yeah why not?
We thought ‘How can we create more opportunities for the youth in our area?’
That included creating partnerships with the County FA and Bradford City as well as doing things ourselves, such as setting up an academy and increasing overall participation in football within the local community, with help from Kick It Out and the Football Supporters’ Federation (FSF).
We held a launch event for Shapla FC in February, thanks to the Fans For Diversity fund, alongside all the partners mentioned previously and that was the pinnacle for us. You have to be in Bradford now to see the impact it has had. It’s ignited the whole community to get involved in football.
We’ve had other local groups come to us and say ‘how can we get involved?’ We’ve had different generations of people coming to play who hadn’t played for years; so the launch of Shapla has really been effective not just for us running the club, but also for spreading the messages and realising the presence of Kick It Out and the FSF.
Alongside Shapla FC, we’re also planning to invite fans of other clubs to come and play the Bangla Bantams before Bradford games so we can increase participation with us. We’re aiming to play Port Vale later this month – so that’ll create a further buzz for what we are trying to achieve within the local community.
With the help of Anwar through Fans For Diversity we have been also able to access more funding for the next two years which will help us develop further.
Due to the support and guidance from Fans For Diversity and Kick It Out, us as a community group have been able to get more involvement with West Riding County FA. I put in an application to be on their Inclusion Advisory Group which was successful. This will give me a real opportunity to increase participation from all communities in the local area.
I think it’s really important for people to develop community initiatives in football, and you can only do so much by yourself so it is essential to have a support network such as Fans For Diversity to assist you.
You get guidance which is vital because there are times when you want to do things that perhaps in hindsight are not right. It is important you develop any community project step by step and that wouldn’t have been possible without the support of Fans For Diversity, Kick It Out and The FSF.