Non-League Day (NLD) takes place Saturday 10th October and, as ever, it has our full support. To celebrate NLD last year the FSF visited Lewes’ Dripping Pan with Kick It Out – our joint Fans For Diversity campaign gave disabled fans the chance to play on the pitch prior to a first team game.
This year Fans For Diversity took a different tack to promote NLD and visited four non-league grounds - Boreham Wood, Aldershot, Sheffield FC and Bromsgrove Sporting - in the space of 48 hours.
“We wanted to do something different to last season - 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 Uddin, FSF Diversity and Campaigns Manager.
“It’s not always glamorous but without supporters helping these clubs they often wouldn’t exist. We really wanted to explore that and promote the Fans For Diversity campaign at the same time. Getting out there, meeting people, making contacts and promoting the FSF all in one go.”
Joining Anwar on-the-road were Football Exclusive, who do highlights packages for non-league clubs, helping clubs raise funds and provide fans with footage of their club, and Tom Taylor from Kick It Out.
Anwar continues: “Over two days we visited Boreham Wood, Aldershot, Sheffield FC and Bromsgrove Sporting. At Boreham Wood we saw a training session and met the manager, officials, and players – many of them are my ex-teammates! [Editor's note: Anwar was an ex-pro and made 300+ senior appearances] You really get a feeling for how important Non-League Day is to them.
“It was then on to Aldershot where Sky Sports came along and did some filming as we met with fans and the local Nepalese community who are literally on the club’s doorstep. Really close by. That’s because many Gurkhas who came over to Britain were housed in Aldershot and the club are keen to tap into that.
“Fans For Diversity has helped that, got involved with fan groups, and Aldershot’s support has been fantastic. It’s a vocal crowd and a great atmosphere and of course they now have the Fans For Diversity Stand, which is brilliant.
“On Tuesday morning we visited Sheffield FC – the world’s oldest club - where Chris Dolby, an ex-Rotherham player, now leads the Foundation. We had a workshop at Sheffield Hallam University with a panel discussion. There were plenty students in attendance and we talked about the FSF’s work on safe standing and stuff – they loved it, really into the activism side which is great.
“It was then onto Bromsgrove Sporting, which is just south of Birmingham, for a meeting with the club’s staff and fans. They’re at step six of the football pyramid but get 300 fans so they really rely on local support with fans volunteering on matchdays.
“We did a talk with schoolkids in the club’s dressing room, looking at Fans For Diversity. They were 13 to 15-year-olds and most supported Villa, Birmingham City, or West Brom, but it was good to let them know that other clubs are there too. There’s a local team on their doorstep and the club agreed to let any kids with Fans For Diversity t-shirts (that we gave out) in for free.
“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.”
- Find out more about Non-League Day: www.nonleagueday.co.uk
- Get involved with Fans For Diversity: Thanks to the Fans for Diversity fund we have a small budget for club-specific activities - if you'd like to get involved, Anwar would love to hear from you. You can email Anwar (firstname.lastname@example.org) or call 020 7253 0162.
Fans For Diversity (try this link for mobile devices):