Kick It Out roadshow highlights equality ahead of Non League Day
Ahead of Non League Day this Saturday (10 October) Kick It Out visited all four clubs dedicating games to the organisation on the first ever Non League Day roadshow.
Alongside the Fans For Diversity (FFD) campaign, a joint initiative run by Kick It Out and the Football Supporters’ Federation (FSF), and Football Exclusives, the organisation travelled over 500 miles across two days visiting National League sides Aldershot Town and Boreham Wood, as well as Worcestershire based Bromsgrove Sporting and Yorkshire based Sheffield FC.
The first stop on the roadshow was Meadow Park, home of Boreham Wood. The first-team players of the Wood wore Kick It Out t-shirts at training ahead of their dedicated game against Welling United to show their support for the organisation.
Callum Reynolds, Captain of Boreham Wood, is delighted his team are supporting Kick It Out.
“Kick It Out’s work is not just important at this level, it’s important across all levels of the game. To set an example for people about equality is a massive thing.
“Non League day should be huge for us at Boreham Wood. With it being the international break we should get a few more fans down that maybe want to go and watch a game and we can give them a chance to sample non-league football.”
The roadshow then headed South West to visit Aldershot Town.
The Shots have renamed their community stand after Fans for Diversity, with the campaign offering 10 free season tickets to members of the local community and fan-related initiatives for the rest of the 2015/16 season.
Shahid Azeem, Chairman of Aldershot Town, spoke at the launch of the stand and stated he wanted diversity to be a key part of the club’s future.
“Our mission as a club is to try and compete in our own area. What is different about Aldershot is that we want to be the most diverse club in the country.
“The stand that has been renamed ‘Fans For Diversity’ is our community stand and having Fans For Diversity involved works fantastically well for what we’re trying to do here.”
A long trip north followed to the next stopping point of Sheffield FC, the World’s oldest football club.
Sheffield teamed up with Kick It Out and Sheffield Hallum University to deliver a forum on Black and Minority Ethnic (BME) footballers in the game. Anwar Uddin, Diversity and Campaigns manager at The FSF, was joined by Chris Dolby, Foundation Director at Sheffield FC, who was the first British Asian to play professionally in the Football League, as they spoke to Hallum Students about their careers.
Speaking after the forum, Chris stated his delight at Sheffield FC supporting Kick It Out and Non League Day.
“I think the work Kick It Out do is priceless – the effort they put in tackle racism is an ongoing drive. I think we need voices and people to be the lead on talking about these issues in the football society.
“Non League Day is really important for Sheffield FC. Our fans are passionate but on Saturday there will be a message behind the game which they will all recognise and support because it’s about inclusion and embracing different backgrounds whether you’re playing or supporting.”
The final stop on the roadshow was the Victoria Ground, the home of Midland League Division One Bromsgrove Sporting.
The Rouslers welcomed 20 students from South Bromsgrove High School to their home as Kick It Out and Fans For Diversity spoke to them about their work with equality in football. Anwar also spoke of his career within the game to the group of aspiring footballers.
John Teece, Company Chairman at Bromsgrove Sporting, said the involvement with Kick It Out has given further importance to the club’s work with Non League Day.
“I think the work of Kick It Out has shown an improvement in football over the last five years. At this level, racial prejudice is a rarity or even the crowds getting unpleasant.
“I think this dedicated match has brought more importance of Non League Day than before. It’ll be a good game on Saturday against because Pershore Town have nice people at the club, and the games are always enjoyable and there is no unpleasantness.
With the roadshow coming to an end Anwar reflected on a successful event ahead of Non League Day.
“The roadshow has provided Kick It Out and The FSF with the opportunity to engage with non-league clubs in a way we have never done before.
“Non-league football is magical in so many ways and relies on fans and volunteers to help the club work towards success. We’re delighted we could highlight this, and it’s great teams from all over the pyramid are supporting the work we are doing in football.”