Ever since I can remember I have been a keen footballer. When I was a little child I would kick a ball up and down a field for hours. To most people football is a just a game and all you do is kick a ball around, it’s nothing special. However to me, and so many other people, it’s so much more. It’s a chance to get away from the troubles of your day. A football can’t tell you you’re not good enough, there are no entry requirements, and a football can’t judge you. But people can and do. The beautiful sport of football is being tainted by people who feel it is okay to practice racism on and off the pitch.
The oxford dictionary definition for racism is, “the belief that all members of each race possess characteristics, abilities, or qualities specific to that race, especially so as to distinguish it as inferior or superior to another race or races.” Racism can affect anyone; even professional footballers are not sheltered.
Mario Balotelli, a very charismatic footballer was reduced to tears at a football match against Napoli, due to the racist chants from fans. If an adult footballer who is used to being in the limelight can be reduced to tears imagine how racism can affect a young child. The mental repercussions are unthinkable! This is why we should not and will not stand for racism.
This is why UEFA created the “Kick It Out” campaign. Kick It Out works throughout the football, educational and community sectors to challenge discrimination and encourage inclusive practices and work for positive change. Although this scheme is in place, many footballers have taken matters into their own hands. For example, Kevin Prince Boatang a black footballer, led his team off the pitch in a game against Pro Patria after him and a number of his team mates were victims of racism. Boatang said: “Racism does not go away. If we don’t confront it, it will spread.” He then went on to say that he would be prepared to walk off in a World Cup game or Champions League final if he was racially abused.
Read more about the Kick It Out Campaign here: http://www.kickitout.org/
As a keen sports man and a member of the Anti-Bullying Ambassador Youth Board this inspired me to get involved with stopping racism in football. I live in a small town named Barnsley which is predominantly white, and while racism is not a major issue in the town many people have old fashioned views on the matter. After getting in contact with Barnsley Football Club to enquire if they had a program to educate people on racism, I discovered that there is a weekly football session dedicated to black and ethnic minority children. However, I was informed that it is not currently very popular and the club do not get many black or ethnic minority children going though the club system. This is why I have decided to focus on upping the participation of black and ethnic minority people taking up football in my area and raising awareness about racism.