Players and parents at Watford learn more about equality ahead of Academy Awareness Weekend
Premier League club Watford welcomed Kick It Out on Wednesday 19 October as the Hornets’ Under-16 squad and parents learned about the importance of inclusion in football through the Equality Inspires programme.
The sessions took place ahead of the Academy Awareness Weekend, starting today (21 October), which will see clubs involved in the Premier League Academy structure join together to celebrate the game’s inclusive environment and show their support for the programme.
Troy Townsend, Education and Development Manager at Kick It Out, was joined by former Hornet Marcus Gayle at Vicarage Road for the two sessions as they discussed the key issues in supporting equality in the game.
In an engaging first session, the young players from the Under-16 squad were asked to debate a number of scenarios which could happen in the changing room or pitch environment.
Both Troy and Marcus probed on a number of issues as well as sharing their own experiences within football. The importance of understanding protected characteristics, including race and sexual orientation, was also explained.
Following the Under-16s, the parents of Academy players at Watford joined Troy and Marcus to find out more about how their behavior in the football environment can impact on their child.
Troy, who is the father of Crystal Palace and England star Andros, invited the audience to share their experiences of how they deal with the highs and lows of their child’s career in the game.
Martyn Heather, Head of Education at Premier League, was in attendance and spoke to the parents about the League’s work alongside Kick It Out and the need to provide greater development for Academy players away from the field of play.
After the session, Troy reflected on another positive workshop ahead the weekend’s activities. He said: “Ahead of such an important weekend for Kick It Out and the Premier League it was good to visit Watford FC and showcase the essential work that is being delivered within the Academy environment.
“The importance of the programme in not only developing understanding of equality and inclusion in the game, but also creating well-rounded individuals who can help play their role in a cohesive society, was clear to see.
“The club has been fantastic in their support for the Equality Inspires programme, and judging by the young players in attendance, they put a lot of time and effort into teaching their Academy prospects the right methods to approach and combat discrimination.”
Martyn also spoke after the sessions on the importance of the programme. “I thought tonight was excellent,” Martyn said.
“I think some of the team’s responses were fantastic and I think it shows how far we are coming with young players. If we did this session five or 10 years ago, you would have never had the kind of maturity that was displayed during the discussion with Troy and Marcus.
“I believe the parents’ session was equally as important as well because if we want to educate these young players, we have to educate parents as well.
“The Equality Inspires programme is a critical partnership between the Premier League and Kick It Out and the idea behind the Academy Awareness Weekend is to highlight the great work that both organisations are doing.”