It’s been another busy year for our Fans For Diversity campaign which we run with Kick It Out. We caught up with campaign lead Anwar Uddin who’s been out in France helping our England Fans’ Embassy team during the Euros…
“It was a fantastic experience and my first tournament,” says Anwar. “Marseille was eventful to say the least and a lot of the issues we had highlights the work that will need to be done ahead of the upcoming World Cup.
“The experience also highlighted to me the importance of the Fans Embassy – they were on call 24 hours a day producing Free Lions [the fanzine we distribute to England fans at away games] and sometimes just being there to help, people were ringing up asking for family members they hadn’t heard from and so on.”
Fans For Diversity was keen to document the more positive aspects of the tournament – after all, this is a continent coming together, a huge cultural melting pot, to celebrate a shared love for football. Anwar contacted Liam Aylott a Manchester United season ticket holder and keen photographer who was happy to do just that.
Liam travelled around London and captured the huge variety of communities, all coming out to support their national side - Icelandic, Belgian, Polish, English, Spanish, Italian, Northern Irish, Croatian, Swedish, Albanian, Portuguese and French. “Walk around and you don’t really appreciate the communities within the capital until a tournament when you see them out watching the games. I think Liam’s really captured the magic of that,” says Anwar.
Away from international glory – ahem - It’s been a busy end to the season for Fans For Diversity working with a lot of different clubs and fan groups to promote the cause with Bradford City, Charlton Athletic and MK Dons all offered us the chance to use their pitches for community days.
On Sunday 22nd May three events took place with community days at Bradford City (organised by Bangla Bantams), Charlton Athletic (Proud Valiants) and MK Dons.
The following week a special fans v ex-pros match at Dagenham & Redbridge went “spectacularly well” with 650 fans turning up. Funds went to a Daggers fan with a disabled son and helped raise awareness for those with disabilities – highlighting the difficulties such fans can face.
Anwar spent six years as a pro at Dagenham & Redbridge, playing a couple of hundred times for the club, so it was with a little trepidation he pulled the boots back on to face a younger, and extremely enthusiastic fans team. The old boys got back into their groove though and wound up 4-1 winners. “We might be a little bit older and bigger, but we’ve still got it,” claimed Anwar, as eyebrows raised across football.
Fans For Diversity also helped fund Clapton Ultras “Proudly East London” tournament. The club plays in the Essex Senior League and often draw a remarkable 500-600 to games. “It’s an unbelievable ultra flavour for non-league football,” says Anwar. “They really champion diversity – refugee support, food banks and so on. Fans For Diversity is perfect for their principles and was a great sucees, a fantastic day.