Kick It Out honour graduates of Equality and Diversity Awareness in Football Award
Kick It Out hosted a special evening on Tuesday 17 October to celebrate the success of the organisation’s Equality and Diversity Awareness in Football Award, run in partnership with Southampton Solent University.
The event was compered by Hayley Bennett, Kick It Out’s Education Officer who led on the development of a course alongside Education Consultant Martin Malone, as she welcomed over 40 graduates to accept awards in recognition of their work.
The evening highlighted the success of individuals who have either used their experience of being on the course to secure career progression or used their learning to advance equality and diversity in their workplaces.
Hayley was delighted to have the opportunity to honour those who had completed the course and bring together a group of football industry professionals who are passionate about improving their understanding of equality.
She said: “We wanted to say thank you to everyone who has given up to eight weeks of their time to learn more about equality and diversity, but also to promote the role they are playing in making the football industry more inclusive.”
Hayley emphasised the importance of the course, which has run five times since its launch in May 2015, and she explained the impact she hoped it would have on the football industry.
“I have heard from a lot of people who have taken part in the course and gone on to use what they have learnt in their workplace or community,” she said. “People have actively sought to share their knowledge from the course in their workplaces through delivering training, others have voluntarily taken on additional responsibilities relating to equality and diversity.
“The overall aim of the course is to produce future leaders who will drive forward equality and diversity in football, and so far we are making a lot of progress!”
The graduates in attendance were treated to a series of panel discussions around the course and equality in football, with Martin Malone and Dr.Richard Elliott, Southampton Solent’s Head of Football Performance and Participation, initially joining Keeley Baptista, Kick It Out Programmes Manager, to reflect on the concept behind the course and the work put in by Hayley to set it up.
Soon after, the evening moved onto a Q&A with three course graduates, including A.S.P.I.R.E. Co-Chair Louie Silvani, Sport and Recreation Alliance Governance Officer Marianna Sikorowska and Sky Sports News employee Nemesha Balasundaram, who gave an insight into their experiences taking part in the work.
Louis explained that ‘working in grassroots, the course opened my eyes to how I can make a positive impact on young people’, while Marianna suggested the course strengthened her belief that ‘diversity is a key part of good governance – boards with only white 60-plus men won’t be representative of all groups.’
The final panel of the evening saw Inside Inclusion’s Chris Gibbons, The PFA’s Riz Rehman and Law In Sport CEO Sean Cottrell discuss equality and diversity education within the football industry.
Before the graduates were invited up to collect their awards, it was Riz who encapsulated the success of Kick It Out and Southampton Solent’s Equality and Diversity Awareness in Football Award.
“It’s about raising awareness of equality and getting the message across early. This course has been so useful.”