Londonwide Assembly Member and Leader of Waltham Forest Conservatives, Emma Best, launched #FootballForAll campaign in recognition of the exclusion she and many others within the LGBTQ+ community have felt in football.
Emma is a keen footballer who has played for West Ham, Leyton Orient and Essex, and is an FA qualified coach. Emma has continued to be passionate about the power of sport to bring people together and be a great equalising force within our communities.
Football for All: LGBT+ inclusivity in football
On 26th October, Emma hosted an event at City Hall with Stonewall, London FA & Leyton Orient to raise awareness of LGBTQ inclusivity in football.
The event was held in conjunction with the launch of the Stonewall Rainbow Laces Campaign (16-31 Oct).
The overall aim of the panel was to start a conversation and initiate the conversation about inclusivity
The highlights included:
Jahmal Howlett-Mundle - Semi-professional footballer for Ramsgate.
Jahmal’s touching clip coming out to Sheppey FC teammates as bisexual in July 2021 went viral and sparked national conversation about inclusivity in Football. ‘It was an honour to have been a part of the Football For All event hosted by the amazing Emma Best alongside Stonewall. Campaigns like this and Rainbow Laces will continue to increase the visibility of LGBT+ people within the game. Very proud’
Stonewall panel event
Fantastic panel hosted by the brilliant Liz Ward (Stonewall Director of Programmes) with grassroots LGBTQ+ players Paul Loding from Millwall Roman’s FC, Chris Knight from Stonewall FC and Joseph Eloi from London Falcons.
The event was concluded with a very inspirational speech from Sophie Cook and really captured the events passion to make football for all. Sophie is a writer, speaker, actor, broadcaster & photographer. LGBTQ+ & mental health campaigner. Dr Sophie Cook became the first transgender woman to work in football’s Premier League as club photographer for AFC Bournemouth.
The Football For All Cup
As part of the #FootballForAll project, the team launched the inaugural The Football for All Cup 2022. The cup took place on Sunday 30th October at the Score Centre in Walthamstow. The tournament was played across two pitches, consisting of eight teams which were made up of LGBTQ+ support club teams. The teams included Gay Gooners, Proud Lilywhites, Millwall Romans, Pride & Palace, RainbOs, Pride of Irons and Stonewall FC.
After the football was finished, the teams went across to a reception event at Leyton Orient’s stadium, where Leyton Orient players Conor Wood and Anthony Georgiou presented the award to the winners.
‘Really fantastic event with some really good football on show and it was great for London FA to engage with all the LGBTQ+ supporter clubs, Stonewall, Leyton Orient and Waltham Forest Council. Emma Best deserves a lot of credit for fostering some great partnership work and hopefully this event will grow each year’ - Conor McBrearty (London FA Disability and Inclusion Officer)
‘Great to host the Football for all tournament today. Congratulations to the RainbOs on getting to the semi finals and a massive congratulations to Millwall Romans FC on your win. Roll on next year!’ - Robbie Minchin (Community/Player Liaison Officer at Leyton Orient FC)
‘Incredible to see so many come together to support LGBTQ+ inclusivity in football. Big congrats to winners Millwall Romans FC. Also loved putting an O’s shirt back on for RainbOs’ - Emma Best (Londonwide Assembly Member)