Sheffield organisers hail anti-homophobia football event a huge success
Over 300 people attended a football tournament last Saturday (February 16th) at Goals sports complex in Norfolk Park. Thirty two teams representing organisations from across the city all donned Rainbow Laces in a 5-aside tournament lasting all afternoon. The event was organised to call an end to LGBT+ phobia in football. The awareness raising football matches were organised by Sheffield Hallam University and the young peoples’ charity SAYiT which supports young LGBT+ people in the City. Money was also raised to support the work of the charity including a fund set up after the death of a young man called Noah Lomax whose family established a fund in his name. The tournament came in the same week that Sheffield Cricketer and England captain, Joe Root, was widely applauded for challenging an alleged homophobic incident in the third Test in St. Lucia.
James Laley, one of the organisers from Sheffield Hallam University, and himself someone who has experienced homophobia in sport, said:
‘We were overwhelmed by the support we received from across the city. We had originally hoped to attract 12 teams but in the end had almost three times as many – making the event, we believe, one of the biggest Rainbow Laces 5-aside tournaments in the country. As someone who is a keen football fan and who has witnessed homophobia at first hand, it was heartening to see so many LGBT+ people and their allies supporting the initiative. It was a great day and an inclusive atmosphere made better by the fact that the sun shone on a bright, spring like, February day. We are already thinking about plans for 2020 and arranging an even bigger event – so watch this space!’
Steve Slack, CEO of SAYiT, said:
‘It was great to work in collaboration with Sheffield Hallam University in raising awareness of this important issue and it demonstrates, yet again, what an amazingly inclusive city Sheffield is. We know that it is only a small and dwindling minority of football fans who continue to express homophobic attitudes – but they make life harder for those LGBT+ people who are on the receiving end. We had hoped to get some support from the main football clubs in the city and hopefully this will happen next time. We would like to thank everyone involved in the event and in particular Sheffield Hallam University for their amazing hard work and their consistent support for the work of our charity. I feel so proud that Sheffield is a city where people can come together, whatever their sexuality or identity and show their commitment to equality, diversity and inclusivity.’
Photos by Jason Ruffell