Last month the City of Sanctuary Development Officer and Roger Nyantou, CoS Trustee attended a meeting called by Kevin Coleman, Equality & Diversity Manager for the Football Participation and Development Division of the FA Group. The meeting brought together 30 people representing County FAs, refugee support organisations and local football projects working with asylum seekers and refugees with the aim of bringing together all those in the sector to work together for greater impact.
The meeting was held at the King Power Stadium, Leicester and the positive atmosphere was palpable. A wide range of organisations contributed including Amnesty International UK, Counterpoint Arts, Help Refugees, The Muslim Women’s Sports association, Football United, Freedom from Torture as well as smaller projects and FA organised football projects from across the UK.
It was agreed that this was just the start of a collective piece of work for the common good and to enable everyone to better support Refugees and Asylum seekers in both football and as a result, in wider society by breaking down barriers of misunderstanding and improve partnership working.
Any group interested in joining the collective can email Kevin, asking him to add you to the database - [email protected] with name, position (if applicable), organisation and email and let him know that you want to be involved.
This is a growing and exciting area of work as can be seen from this recent Guardian article about the Amnesty International UK Football Welcomes project and the engagement of Premier League clubs in supporting refugees into football.
It was mentioned that one future potential outcome may be a practical, educational resource for all parties to use/distribute in order to educate and encourage more work in this area. It was agreed that we should carry out an audit some of the great resources already out there. Everyone is invited to send documents, guides, online courses or other resources that already exist, to Kevin Coleman.
Current and Good practice
It was agreed to gather together a list to capture what is happening and everyone is invited to complete the questions below and send this to Kevin. Feel free to add any missing key factors.
|Name of Project|
|What do you deliver? i.e. Just football or other services|
|How many service users are involved? And what rough proportion of them are Refugees or Asylum seekers and where are they from.|
|Where does this happen?|
|Who funds this work?|
|Who are your key partners?|
|Please tell us here if there are anything else you would like to tell us|
County Football Associations
Kevin informed everyone that most organised football in England is delivered with and through County Football Associations (CFA). He will put together a list of all of these and their key contacts with a view to make sure any active project is linked to their local County FA. Inclusion at every County FA is strategically advised on by the CFA’s Inclusion Advisory Group. Kevin will also make sure that once this group is up and running, that all IAGs are aware of our work.
It was discussed that communications will play an important part in this work, whether that be communicating with refugees, communicating with each other or how the media is managed to make sure a positive spin is put on this positive work. The group agreed to set up a collective comms protocols as the work progresses. In the meantime, if members have any press requests to talk about their work with refugees or the work of the group, to feel free to approach the FA for advice. The FA’s Senior Comms Manager for Inclusion - [email protected]
Professional Refugee Players
It was agreed to work with partners such as the PFA (Professional Footballers Association), Show Racism the Red Card and Kick It Out to try and identify who some of the current or past professional players are who may have been refugees or asylum seekers with a view to contact them once we have a credible project or proposal to put to them with support from other partners. If anyone is aware of any current refugee players though, please let Kevin know. Kevin will also find out about the England women’s football team so that we can make relevant requests at an appropriate time for appearances from them.
Women & Girls Football
It was identified that although around 85% of current Refugee applications are from men, women make up a tiny proportion of those involved in football from those communities, so are under-represented. It was agreed we should look into some specific programmes and projects to encourage women to get more involved. This will support The FA’s current strategic priority of doubling participation in female football by 2020.
The Premier League Equality Standard for Professional Clubs
All Premier League clubs are now working towards higher levels of the Equality Standard, which this work would count as evidence towards. Kevin will make sure that the assessors and other staff working on this certification with pro clubs are fully aware of this work and your projects.
Kevin will contact Claudia at the FARE network to link them into this group and will also find out about the FARE weeks of action in October, so that some of your projects have the chance to participate.
We identified that funding for football coaching qualifications could be a positive step to help some football players and their communities better integrate. Kevin will look to find out possible sources of funding that would cover FA Level 1 qualifications
The next meeting will be after Refugee week and could be in Leicester, Wembley, Hull or possibly George’s park. You will need to get onto Kevin's mailing list to be [email protected]