As part of the Rainbow Laces campaign between 22 November and 8 December 2019, London FA is releasing a series of features looking at the importance of inclusion within football.
Having been established in 1997 by a couple of parents, who wanted a safe environment for children to play football as opposed to the street, Parkwood Rangers Junior Football Club holds the values of inclusiveness and acceptance dear. In the 22 years since, the club has grown exponentially, supporting football between the ages of 5-18, as well as men’s, ladies’ and veterans’ sides.
Club Secretary, Andrew Morton, has suggested that a player’s gender, age or indeed sexuality should never be discriminated against, with the club instead preferring to promote positive play on the pitch.
He said: “We do not necessarily class ourselves as a LGBTQ+ specific team as our outlook is fun, friendship, fitness, football but we do have several players from LGBTQ who have been with our team for several seasons.
“The FA says ‘Football is For All’ and that should include players and supporters who are from the LGBT community, who should be able to play or watch football without the fear of being singled out or attacked in any way.”
In his time with Parkwood Rangers, Andrew has certainly seen opinions in the beautiful game alter, with the Stonewall Rainbow Laces campaign in particular being championed and supported by members of their squad and has encouraged other clubs throughout London to do the same.
“The reaction [towards the Rainbow Laces campaign] from members of our squad that are part of the LGBTQ community was positive as they felt they were ‘accepted for who they are’ and that our club was the right one for them,” he continued. “Clubs need to be proactive in their commitment towards the LGBT community and in return as word spreads, players and spectators will work out for themselves whether or not if a particular club is the right one for them to play for or watch.”
Whilst Andrew and of course Parkwood Rangers are doing their upmost to promote the Rainbow Laces campaign through donning their laces and sharing powerful images on social media, he implied that the responsibility can not only fall on members of the grassroots community. Instead, he has called on some on some of the biggest names within the game to lend their help.
He said: “To raise the profile of the campaign, it is important that clubs at the highest level of the game support the campaign, as we need the men’s side to become as accepting, understanding and embracing as the female game. If this does not happen, the Rainbow Laces will only be representing one part of the LGBTQ community.”
If you would like to learn more about inclusion in football and the 2019 Rainbow Laces campaign, please click here
All participants showing their support to the campaign are also encouraged to share content via London FA’s social media platforms, using the hashtag #RainbowLaces and mentioning @LondonFA on Twitter, @ldnfa on Instagram or @LDNFootballAssociation on Facebook.