'From Headscarves to Football Scarves' a great success
Arsenal welcomed 20 South Asian girls from the ‘From Headscarves to Football Scarves’ initiative to Emirates Stadium for their dedicated Arsenal for Everyone fixture against Hull City on Saturday (18 October).
‘From Headscarves to Football Scarves’, which is spearheaded by Luton Sixth Form College and the National Asians in Football Forum (NAIFF), was launched in March 2014 to increase participation of South Asian women and girls in football.
The initiative has the support of a joint project, entitled ‘Fans for Diversity’, led by the Football Supporters’ Federation (FSF) and Kick It Out, which aims to increase diversity within football crowds on a matchday up and down the country.
The first match of ‘From Headscarves to Football Scarves’ saw over 100 local South Asian girls watch last season’s Football Conference champions Luton Town beat Chester 3-0 at Kenilworth Road before the group headed to Wembley in May to witness England’s 3-0 victory over Peru.
Arsenal are the first Premier League football club to get involved in the initiative as the group of 20 young women and their families travelled to North London to watch the Gunners take on Hull. The girls joined a cross section of fans who represented a number of Arsenal in the Community initiatives as part of the club’s commitment to Kick It Out’s on-going ‘Season of Action’.
Butch Fazal, Student Development Adviser at the College and Chairman of the NAIFF, said: “We’ve gone from the Conference to the Premier League, via Wembley! The campaign is really picking up speed and, in partnership with the FSF and Kick It Out, I can see it reaching out to a much wider audience.
“The FSF and Kick It Out picked up on the initiative after the Luton game, they felt we could offer a lot more than just that one match. With their contacts in the Premier League, Arsenal were the first club to come to us and say they’d love for some of our girls to come along.”
Fazal continued: “The initiative is all about raising awareness of the lack of South Asian females in football, not just watching the Premier League but participation across the game. Going to these three matches will give these young ladies a chance to articulate and share their experiences, and encourage their friends to go along.
“Ultimately they are the mothers of the next generation of South Asians, and if they know it’s a safe environment to go to they can hopefully lift the stigma attached to football and black and ethnic minority supporters in the grounds. Things have changed since the darker days of the 70s and 80s. Our students are looking forward to the game with enthusiasm.”
Ivan Gazidis, Arsenal Chief Executive, said: “The Arsenal for Everyone campaign underlines our on-going commitment to diversity. I am delighted that we welcomed ‘From Headscarves to Football Scarves’ to join up with a cross section of our Arsenal family to the game alongside Kick It Out and Level Playing Field.
“The Arsenal for Everyone matchday is a celebration of our diverse fan base and the work we do in our community, but equality and diversity is something we need to embrace every day across every aspect of our operation and that is something we will strive to achieve.”
Anwar Uddin, Diversity and Campaigns Manager for the FSF, said: “The ‘From Headscarves to Football Scarves’ initiative has been a huge success and this has been driven by the hard work of Luton Sixth Form College and the NAIFF. In my role with the FSF and Kick It Out, we wanted to give our support to help ensure the project continues long term.
“Our ‘Fans for Diversity’ initiative is about promoting football as a welcoming and accessible environment for all supporters, and we’re delighted ‘From Headscarves to Football Scarves’ was at the Emirates. The girls are having positive matchday experiences and it sends out the right message that stadiums across the country are inclusive of all communities.”
The Arsenal for Everyone initiative was launched six years ago to celebrate the diversity of the Arsenal family and formed a large part in the club’s work to becoming the first professional football club to achieve the Advanced Level of Kick It Out’s Equality Standard, a framework devised for clubs to help with their equality and diversity practices.
Arsenal strives to ensure that everybody connected with the club – irrespective of race, age, religion and belief, sexual orientation, disability and gender – feels an equal sense of belonging. Arsenal is proud to transform the lives of young people through a variety of projects funded through The Arsenal Foundation.
The Arsenal Foundation is a fundraising and grant-making organisation designed to grow the reach and effect of the programmes the club supports to help an increasing number of young people across the globe fulfil their potential and help their communities thrive.
The main focus of the work is through education projects, an area where Arsenal has made a difference over many years with community-led and charitable initiatives that motivate and engage young people using the power of the Arsenal name.
To find out more about the Arsenal Foundation, please click here.