Tuesday 25th November 2014 saw Wembley Stadium host the first of The FA’s Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGB&T) participation in football workshop. Attended by a cross-section of the football family including grassroots and professional clubs, county FA’s, administrators to CEO’s, it certainly was a day of football coming together.
Inclusion Education Advisor at The FA, Chris Gibbons organised today’s event and shared his thoughts on the need and impact of such initiatives. “We know that there some really good initiatives across the board led by many organisations who are trying lots of different ways to tackle homophobia, biphobia and transphobia to make sure that all LGB&T people and everybody, feel included.
In order to do this work we needed to get together clubs, County FA’s and leagues to help them understand the issue, who they can talk to and help support them in promoting football for all. This is the first of its kind for not only football, but sport; to be really getting all those that can influence policy, players and fans. Those that attended are now aware of the initiatives out there and can really drive these in 2015 and beyond.
I am really pleased with today’s events. We have had a big turnout from CEO’s to administrators all working together to achieve a common goal. It was great to see the diversity of people that want to get involved in this work. What I was really pleased about was people saying, ‘what I thought I knew, I didn’t actually know’. Walking away from today it is apparent that there are things we can do, it doesn’t have to be complicated and that there are people out there to support us”.
Development Manager at Millwall Football Club, Marc Elliot, spoke of how imperative it is to engage other clubs in tackling issues surrounding LGB&T.
“The importance of today was that it gave me the opportunity to see what everyone else is doing in the LGB&T community and how to educate others to create a better understanding of the discrimination involved. It was an informative day and I have certainly learnt a lot and made contacts which I will now use going forward with Millwall Football Club. One idea is working with Football Supporters Federation, headed up by Anwar Uddin, to create a LGB&T fans forum”.
Guest presenter, Leviathen Hendricks from the Gay Football Supporters Network, commended The FA’s work in bringing various football communities together to tackle homophobia, biphobia and transphobia.
“Today was fantastic. It was brilliant having The FA taking the lead and bringing together LGB&T football organisations together with stakeholders from football including county FA’s, clubs, leagues and those that sit on boards. It is really heartening to see that so many people have been here, at Wembley, for the whole day to hear about what is going on in the LGB&T community and think of creative ways to make change at their own clubs and organisations”.
Today highlighted our collective responsibility in raising awareness and visibility of issues surrounding LGB&T and being proactive to make a real difference to football. Perceptions and stereotypes still exist within our communities. However, I strongly believe that if we can work cohesively, we really can change hearts and minds.
It is time to educate and celebrate differences and change the culture that currently exists in our society. It is time to challenge stereotypes and perceptions as football is for all. Let us work together to diversify the game.
“I learnt things today which I thought I already knew, but realised that there is so much more to know. From the terminology and language to the methods and ideas which need to be enhanced. It was truly an inspirational and amazing day filled with knowledge, experiences and stories from a range of speakers, one of which was Delia Johnston CEO of ‘Transsexuals in Sport’. Much credit to Funke Awoderu, Equality Manager at The FA, and Chris Gibbons, Inclusion Education Advisor at The FA, for organising such a fantastic event”.
(Corey Donoghue, FA Tutor/Equality Facilitator/FA Safeguarding QA Regional Lead).