Fans For Diversity: Summer '16 round-up

Proud and Palace banner

Our Fans For Diversity programme has been holding events across the country this summer as we continue to work with Kick It Out to help under-represented groups get into the match-going habit.

We caught up with campaign lead Anwar Uddin to learn more about a selection of the events held...

Southampton Disabled Supporters Association

For the second year running, Fans For Diversity supported Southampton Disabled Supporters Association's (SDSA) open day at St Mary's Stadium. The number of fans attending is thought to have doubled, with roughly 1,000 fans visiting St Mary's throughout the course of the day. 

Prior to the event, Fans For Diversity helped with the costs of promoting the event, with thousands of leaflets being distributed to Southampton fans.

Anwar said: "It was a great turn out once again and a fantastic day. It's important for any fan to feel connected to their club - this was a great opportunity for disabled supporters to do so.

"This year the club gave us access to the concourse area at St Mary's due to the number of people that were expected to turn up."

Proud and Palace launched

One of the most encouraging trends in recent years has been the emergence and growth of LGBT fan groups across the country and here at the FSF we're happy to support the work of Pride In Football, the LGBT umbrella network for fan groups.

Crystal Palace fans are the latest to join the fray, with the launch of Proud and Palace at Selhurst Park this month.

A special launch evening was held at the club, with the local Mayor in attendance, along with Kick It Out's Troy Townsend - father of Palace winger Andros Townsend - for a panel discussion about the club and issues facing LGBT supporters.

"It was a interesting evening," Anwar said. "There's so much energy among the Proud and Palace group, so much enthusiasm for their club. That's what it's all about.

"We're pleased to be supporting them. I'm sure they'll do a lot of great work for LGBT fans in Palace."

The new group will be supporting LGBT Palace fans and provide a social environment in which to promote the club, and say they'll support Crystal Palace fans on issues affecting supporters.

Emma Wright, one of Proud and Palace's three committee members, said: "We love Palace - we're as passionate as any other Palace fans about the team so we're not just focusing on LGBT issues.

"Palace is the kind of club that has a great community around it, the kind you may not get elsewhere and that's what we love about it."

Blues 4 All

Since the launch of the Fans For Diversity campaign Asian fan groups have been tackling the misconceptions surrounding football fans amongst the Asian community.

One of the most successful examples of this is Bradford City fan group the Bangla Bantams  who wanted to get more local Asians into Valley Parade to see live football.

Now a similar scheme is up and running in Birmingham, called Blues 4 All run by Mick Singh - a Birmingham City fan for more than 50 years.

"They got in contact with us earlier this year and wanted to get involved, " Anwar said. "They've been Birmingham City fans their whole lives and they want to make sure local kids from Punjabi backgrounds catch the bug too.

"They're encouraging more supporters from different backgrounds to get along to a match.

"There are definitely perceived barrier which might not be immediately obvious to regular match-goers. Particularly, if you're an Asian fan and haven't had your dad or grandad getting you into the match-going habit from a young age.

"It's great to see another group of supporters looking to make football as welcoming as possible."