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.
In last month’s Fans For Diversity review we mentioned that the FSF’s Anwar Uddin was faaaarrrr too modest to mention that he was nominated for a gong at the Asian Football Awards. Back on Thursday 19th November Anwar headed out suited and booted to the AFA and found out he’d won the “Behind The Scenes” category – well done Anwar!
“The Awards used to be very heavily focused on players, coaches or managers, so it was really good to see more fan involvement this year too with the likes of Punjabi Wolves and Bangla Bantams – both groups we’ve worked with a lot in 2015 – represented,” says Anwar.
Of course it’s not all glitz and glamour in Anwar’s life (well, he claims it’s not) and as ever he’s been on the road visiting clubs across the country. In Blackburn Anwar visited the Abu Hanifah Foundation Football Club (AHFFC), an FA affiliated Charter Standard community football club run entirely by volunteers and parents.
AHFFC places emphasis “on children developing their skills to become positive footballers and also good British citizens” and recently organised an inter-faith tournament to develop community links. Anwar spoke to them about engaging more local youths in football.
A short hop to Manchester and Fans For Diversity supported young fans at FC United of Manchester who celebrated Black History Month by creating poems and banners which will be displayed at Broadhurst Park for the rest of the season.
Andy Cheshire, Community and Education Manager at FC United, said: “The diversity workshops were all excellent and the children - over 200 participants across 7 schools - all really enjoyed them. They were so well received that we will now be running these workshops in partnership with stroke org to adults in the local area who will also be invited to attend a match and have their banners included around the ground.
“The schools are all planning on visiting the ground for picture opportunities with their work which I will also forward on to you in due course. The exhibitions were fantastic and, given the current climate with regards to refugees and asylum seekers, the exhibition around the role of refugees in football generated some fantastic discussions with the young participants.
“On the back of the visits to the exhibitions, I have been asked to take these into schools to conduct workshops around them and as such I will be applying for a grant to ensure we can have our own exhibition to be taken around schools and to continue to promote a message of inclusiveness in an area of the city where there is currently racial tension amongst youths.”
Without Fans For Diversity funding Andy says that the club wouldn’t have been able to do the work to the extent they did.
“It’s a fantastic example of how a football club can engage with young people in the local community and demonstrated FC’s commitment to promoting a message of equality, inclusion and diversity!” said Andy.
A great example of why Anwar won the “Behind The Scenes” category at the Asian Football Awards came with visits to two clubs this month which show not everything needs to be done in the media.
Anwar’s working with one club which has had a few unsavoury incidents and chants among a very small group of fans. Anwar’s working alongside the club to highlight positive stories, to show that the majority of the club’s fans actually do not think like that, and isolate the offenders. It’s probably not the right time to go into detail on that, but it’s something that we hope to come back to.
A different example from another unnamed club who might have alienated one of their Asian supporter groups. The group in question are keen to engage with the club to talk issues which affect match-going fans, whereas the club have treated them as more of a community group. It’s a knotty issue, but something Anwar hopes to resolve.