Wigan Athletic's Academy players show support for Football v Homophobia
Wigan Athletic’s Under-18 side took park in an educational workshop with representatives from FvH at Christopher Park training ground on Wednesday (15 February) afternoon to raise awareness about homophobia in football and society.
First and second year scholars discussed a variety of different topics with Louise Englefield from FvH, with a particular focus on the reasons why top-flight professional footballers who are gay may find it difficult to come out.
Football v Homophobia is an international campaign to tackle homophobia and prejudice against Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) people in football. The aim of Football v Homophobia is to make football safe and welcoming for everyone.
Louise, said: “We’re trying to make football a more inclusive place for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people. We have seen a lot of positive changes over recent years, but we feel there is still some work to be done to make sure everyone feels welcome in football.”
She added: “We hope the players will take away with them a desire to be careful about the language they use, not to make assumptions about people or stereotype, to value each other as individuals and to really take that into their playing careers so that they’re role models for inclusion in the game.”
As part of the club’s Together programme and its commitment to equality and diversity, Wigan Athletic is showing its support for Football v Homophobia campaign at this weekend’s Sky Bet Championship fixture against Preston North End at the DW Stadium.
Before the game, the Community Trust are hosting a Premier League Kicks fixture against Preston Kicks at Wigan Youth Zone where they will be talking to young people about the importance of respectful language and behaviour, while the first team players will be warming up in FvH t-shirts before the game against North End.
Jonathan Jackson, Chief Executive of Wigan Athletic Football Club, said: “Together is all about challenging discrimination and making staff aware that they should treat people equally and fairly. It’s about working together, thinking together and communicating together internally. We believe this is very important at this club.”
He added: “The event was fantastic and it’s great that Louise from Football v Homophobia visited Christopher Park to enhance the young players’ education, because it’s really important they better their understanding of the subject.”
Second year scholar Charlie Forecast believes players who are gay would play better if they came out, and used the performances of American international Robbie Rogers as an example.
He said: “An issue raised was when players do come out, like Robbie Rogers did, he had his best season the following year. He was accepted for who he was, and when people do come out they feel comfortable in their own skin, so they’ll play better and we’ll all enjoy the game more.”