Every month we catch up with Anwar Uddin to hear the latest from Fans For Diversity which we run with Kick It Out. Anwar leads the campaign and he’s always on the lookout for fans who’d like to get involved. Fans For Diversity’s work is driven by the grassroots and we have a small budget for club-specific activities - find out more via firstname.lastname@example.org.
Anwar’s far too modest to bring it up himself but we should probably start off by mentioning that he’s been nominated for an award at the Asian Football Awards in the “Behind The Scenes” category. Well done Anwar!
“They rang me two nights ago and for me it’s quite significant – it’s nice to win something that’s not on-the-pitch”, says Anwar, an ex-pro who played more than 300 senior games. “As the FSF will be quite prominent at the event it helps raise our profile amongst people who might not otherwise have heard of us – who we are, what we do.”
The Asian Football Awards aim to raise awareness of the positive impact made by Asians in UK football and seek to engage individuals and organisations to improve participation levels.
At the less glamorous end of the spectrum Anwar And the Fans For Diversity campaign toured the country in support of Non-League Day, visited four grounds - Boreham Wood, Aldershot, Sheffield FC and Bromsgrove Sporting - in 48 hours.
“We wanted to see the stories behind the clubs, walk into the dressing rooms, meet the volunteers who keep these clubs going, to really get that sense of what each club is about,” explains Anwar. “It was just great to see so many people so dedicated to their own clubs though. Many of these clubs just wouldn’t exist without their fans committing their own time to the cause.”
Rivals face up at St George’s Park
Back in 2014 Punjabi Rams and Punjabi Wolves Supporters joined forces to promote their teams to the Asian community (right). While football is extremely popular in the Asian community, many fans have never been to a game.
The matchday “habit” is often formed as a child but that formative influence isn’t always there for young Asians, so Punjabi Rams and Punjabi Wolves Supporters hope actions like this will show that football is a welcoming environment for fans from all backgrounds.
Derby County came out top on the day hammering their local rivals 5-0. But that was the pros and the two fan groups were keen for a rematch between themselves which Fans For Diversity organised as part of Black History Month. The game also marked the one year anniversary of the unveiling of the Arthur Wharton statue at the national football centre. Wharton was England's first black pro.
While Derby County might have came out on top last year Wolves fans exacted revenge as Punjabi Wolves Supporters trounced Punjabi Rams 9-0. Ouch. Each team had a squad of 20 while 100 fans stood on the sidelines celebrating/commiserating (delete as appropriate).
Anwar clocked up the miles this month and the longest trip was a visit to Vilnius supporting England fans as part of the Free Lions/Fans’ Embassy team. The Three Lions extended their winning streak with a 3-0 win against Lithuania which saw them top their group with a 100% record and qualify for Euro 2016.