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Friday, April 16, 2021


                                                JUST A BALL GAME?  MEDIA RELEASE.




JUST A BALL GAME? (JBG?) are delighted to announce that former Irish International Hockey Captain Nikki Symmons has joined them as their latest patron.


 Symmons had an illustrious hockey career playing 208 times in emerald green across 12 years and in doing so became the most capped elite Irish athlete. Field Hockey wasn’t the only sport embraced by the talented Dubliner as there were several international caps earned at Cricket and Nikki was by all accounts quite formidable with a tennis racket too!


Recently she has immersed herself in a media content profession with International Hockey Federation (FIH) and more recently Philip Morris International, and has become a leader across global platforms inspiring females and LGBT+ people alike breaking down stereotypes while educating on all things equality inclusion and diversity. 


Nikki was out to friends, family and team mates for a number of years prior to publicly ‘coming out’ in 2014 and yet there was still reluctance in doing so.“Do I say anything?”

“Then I thought about how if I could help just one person to be comfortable with themselves and just to be them, that it would be an accomplishment in itself.” 

 Symmons goes on, “If any of the journeys I have been through in my life, be it sport or personal struggles can inspire people, I will do my very best to continue to do this.” Maintaining, “I see many people struggling to come to terms with their sexuality, so felt to talk about it was the right thing to do.”


 Lindsay England founder of JBG? says, “ We feel honoured to have someone with a natural aptitude for both sports and business as Nikki’s on board as one of our patrons, and we will endeavour to showcase these qualities which Nikki seemingly portrays quite effortlessly.”

On becoming a JBG? patron Symmons says:"It is very important to me to use my platform to raise awareness for the whole LGBTQIA community. I am very grateful for this opportunity to share my thoughts on the many difficulties that our community are facing today". 




Monday, March 01, 2021

JBG? International Women's day 2021- guest blog from historian Steve Bolton.

JBG? International Women's day 2021- guest blog feature from historian 

Steve Bolton.



As part of Women's History Month and our International Women's day focus leading up to 8th March, here at JUST A BALL GAME? we 

would like to offer you this read and link to the full article from our friend, historian

Steve Bolton whose gran 

 Lizzy Ashcroft played alongside Lily Parr in the famous Dick, Kerr Ladies team.


We would also like to give thanks to Margaret, editor-in-chief of



(Source: Lizzy Ashcroft Collection)


“I Would Like To Begin Again This Day”

These beautiful words bring a tear to my eye. They were written to my granny Lizzy Ashcroft by French Footballer Andree Gaukler. On the top left we see: Lizzy Ashcroft, Friend, Andree Gaukler, Margaret Thornborough and Lily Parr. On the top right we see: Margaret Thornborough, Carmen Pomies and Lizzy Ashcroft. The amazing photos above show my granny mucking around with her football mates without a care in the world. Two words spring to my mind: JOY and FREEDOM. My granny had a hard life and I was so overjoyed to find this treasure trove of photographs and witness the good times she had in the 1930s. I wrote an article recently about her friend and captain Lily Parr. The Lily Parr 'nonsense industry’ is out of control and at times is very disrespectful to one of our top athletes. This is my short tribute to my granny’s old mucker…


Lily Parr - An Amateur Cricketer, Hockey Player + Footballer. My Tribute to My Granny Lizzy Ashcroft’s Great Friend

Friday, February 26, 2021

GMB North West & Irish Trade Union presented with the JUST A BALL GAME? 2020/21 Tackling HBT bullying award.

 JUST A BALL GAME?                                                                               MEDIA RELEASE                                      



©   2018-2023.


GMB North West & Irish Trade Union presented with the JUST A BALL GAME? 2020/21 Tackling HBT bullying award.

JUST A BALL GAME? (JBG?) are delighted to announce that trade union region GMB NW&I have been recognised for their efforts on challenging discrimination and raising awareness around LGBT+ inclusion and visibility with the JBG? annual award. The subdued ceremony has taken place during 2021 LGBT+ History Month and formed part of the organisations 10 year anniversary.


The silver salver award took place as part of the regions Shout! LGBT+ network event and was handed over to regional secretary Paul McCarthy and political officer Neil Smith by Ann O’Byrne, a Liverpool Labour Councillor. 


Over the past 18 months the trade union staff and members have given fantastic support to JBG? alongside the network of local LGBT+ members and strived to make work places inclusive and LGBT+ people feel represented and included in all aspects of activism and educational work platforms.








On being presented with the award Mr McCarthy expressed, “On Behalf of our GMB NW&I Region, I am delighted in receiving this reward for the work which champions our LGBT+ commitment and strengthens everything which equality stands for in a modern society. Thank you to Just A Ball Game? for this award and we look forward to equality for all of our LGBT+ members.

 GMB National President Barbara Plant attending the event and also a patron of JBG? stated, “GMB North West and Irish region has always been a staunch supporter of Just A Ball Game? They are worthy winners of this award, which recognises their commitment to LGBT+ inclusivity and equality. I was pleased to being able to see them receive it at the region's recent on-line LGBT+ event.”







Founder of JBG? Lindsay England expressed, “GMB NW&I are extremely deserving of this award for their time, efforts and compassion shown to LGBT+ members and a wider audience. They are always available to listen, learn and lead on issues and proposals of equality inclusion and diversity. Anyone looking at joining a trade union would instantly benefit from their advocacy. We are proud to call them comrades.”



In 2020 JBG? compiled a survey on HBT abuse in sport and released a report highlighting that some progress has been made over the past decade but also detailed how much more work still needs to be done to ensure the workplace of a sporting environment is a welcoming one for LGBT+ people and their allies:






Contact for further information:

Founder-Lindsay England:  


Monday, December 07, 2020

Our new JBG? partnership with Keighley Albion RL FC

Keighley Albion are proud to announce that we have become a recognised partner club to the Just a ball game? organisation.
The official partnership is the first of its kind between a Community Rugby League Club and an organisation founded on promoting inclusivity in Grassroots Sports.

Just a Ball Game? (JABG?) encourage and promote inclusivity in sport environments, helping to support all the protected characteristics (in the Equality Act 2010): age; disability; gender reassignment; marriage and civil partnership; pregnancy and maternity; race; religion or belief; sex; and sexual orientation.
Having recently celebrated their tenth anniversary, JABG? have a developed a fantastic reputation through their work in sport, and in 2019 they won the UK Prime Minister Points of Light Award for LGBT+ inclusion in sport. The organisation have made a fantastic impact in grassroots football, with successful existing partner club relationships with Bradford City, F.C United of Manchester and AFC Rushden and Diamonds.
The organisation also have the support of several passionate and notable patrons, including Neville Southall (former Welsh International footballer), Edward Lord OBE (Chair of the London English Football Football Association. Inclusion Advisory Group) and Phuti Lekoloane (the first ‘out’ gay male professional footballer in South African Football). 
The Rugby Football League are passionate about promoting inclusivity in the sport, and as recent as October 2020, the governing body published a sport-wide action plan to make Rugby League a truly inclusive sport by tackling discrimination and breaking down any barriers to involvement. The “Tackle It” initiative includes actions on player and coach recruitment and development, talent inclusion and progression, community outreach and club development, as well as ensuring zero tolerance of all forms of discrimination within the game.
As a proud and reputable community club in the sport (Being one of Yorkshire’s biggest clubs) Keighley Albion are passionate about promoting inclusivity, equality and diversity across all levels. With over 300 registered club members, (with mixed gender teams from 3-11 years old, U12-U18 gender specific teams, and Open Age Men’s and Ladies teams), the club prides itself on encouraging the participation of all players, creating a respectful and safe environment.
There is also a mutual connect between Keighley Albion and JABG, with former player Reece Robertson being a patron of the organisation. When Reece came out as gay whilst playing for Albions open age side, the news was welcomed by his teammates, and likewise supported by the club.
 The partnership between Albion and JABG has also been endorsed by the towns professional team Keighley Cougars, as well as the Cougars Foundation.
The Cougars are fantastic ambassadors for inclusivity, and in 2019 the club hosted Rugby Leagues first ever PRIDE Event, with the innovative match day experience receiving a fantastic response from the community and the sport of Rugby League. The Cougars are famously the first ever sports club to be owned by a married same-sex couple in Ryan O’Neil and Kaue Garcia, and undoubtedly the message of inclusivity is one very close to the clubs heart. In line with the Foundations Community policy, players will be going out into the local Keighley community, including sports clubs and schools, to discuss inclusivity with local people.

Albion Committee Member, Rob Spencer:
We are really excited about the announcement and partnership with Just a Ball Game? as we look to change the perception of Rugby League in Keighley from a stereotyped ‘tough mans game’ to a sport and social environment where everyone is welcome.
We have to engage with our community and ensure that our club is more representative of its demographics. In the 2011 census, the largest social groups in the Keighley Parish outside those described as White, were Asian/Asian British (23.5%) and Black/African/Caribbean/Black British (0.7%). For the purposes of social integration, and in the interests of encouraging healthy lifestyles and positive lifestyle choices, better engagement with communities is of paramount importance - and our partnership with JABG? will help us to achieve these aims.
 I was heavily inspired by the Keighley Cougars Pride Day in 2019, having taken my U6 primary age group to take part in the curtain raiser. Having spoken initially to the clubs owner Ryan O’Neill regarding the partnership - it was great to hear that both the Cougars and the Foundation would endorse and support the partnership, and we would like to thank Cougars for their ongoing support.
Keighley Albion Chairman, Richard Dibbin:
We are delighted and proud to have made this partnership, we are the first amateur Rugby League club to have become a partner of JABG?, and the first community club in the sport to seek such a partnership - this speaks volumes on the type of club we want to build here. Rugby League is one of the greatest character building team sports, and everyone should feel confident and comfortable to take part.
We have started making plans to support the partnership including introducing an Inclusion Officer to our clubs committee. This role will be carried out by Maria Wild, who will help to promote, educate and implement interventions to encourage the awareness of inclusivity at club level. We have also started discussing hosting a pride festival that will include all our junior teams participating in a tournament with off field activities and entertainment. 

Lindsay England, Founder of JUST A BALL GAME?:
"We are very excited to have formed a partnership with Keighley Albion Rugby League FC and look forward to working with them on all things equality, inclusion and diversity."
"True acceptance and respect are generally all LGBT+ people expect from others, and many LGBT+ struggles have been won in the hearts and minds of the community."

With the passion of both the junior/amateur game alongside the towns professional club to promote inclusivity in Keighley, there will certainly be a fantastic impact in the local community.
More information on the partnership and JABG? can be found on the following links:
Keighley Albions JABG? Partner Club Profile:
TWITTER: @justaballgame
INSTAGRAM: @justaballgame


Monday, November 09, 2020

JBG? survey finds almost three quarters of LGBT+ people need a safe space to participate in sport.

JBG? survey finds almost three quarters of LGBT+ people need a safe space to participate in sport.


LGBT+ campaign organisation JUST A BALL GAME? (JBG?) work to raise awareness around inclusion and visibility for LGBT+ people in football and other sports. As part of our 10th birthday celebrations we have released our report from the survey we conducted earlier this year.

The research published in the documentation was conducted by Lindsay England, founder of “Just a Ball Game?” (JBG?) in partnership with Peter Millward (Professor of Contemporary Sociology, Liverpool John Moores University). This survey is a 10 year on follow up from the original piece of research which was conducted by JBG? a decade ago.

Some of the key findings are as follows:

1.     Just over 73.30 percent of survey participants feel the need to participate in sport or leisure activities in a ‘safe space’ by being part of an LGBT+, or an LGBT+ friendly club or inclusive of all group.

2.     Only 58 out of 133 who responded to the question ‘’Do you feel satisfied with the responses you got when you reported the homophobia, biphobia or transphobia?’’ felt that the response they got after reporting the bigotry was satisfactory. This figure highlights the need for further sensitivity and improvements.

3.     Findings underline those across the survey in highlighting modest improvements in the landscape but still much work to be carried out given that the prevalence of LGBT+ discrimination continues to be high.

Former Everton and Wales goalkeeper (who is also a patron of JBG?) Neville Southall wrote as part of the foreward for the report: “As an ally to the LGBTQ+ community I find it sad that they are still finding that sport still has many barriers for them.”




Chair of AFC Rushden &Diamonds Ralph Burditt says, “"It's excellent to see the results of the excellent work that JBG? have done in compiling this data. We have long known that sport has issues with discrimination on the basis of sexuality, but understanding the detail around this, where the specific problems lie and how the issues are changing with time is a vital next step in working towards a discrimination-free future."

Former professional player and another of JBG?’s patron Adam McCabe had this to say on the report:

“The JBG? report is a valuable tool that highlights the necessity to continue fighting for inclusion in football. As seen recently in the USL Championship regarding the abuse received by Collin Martin, it is as important as ever to educate, define and report issues surrounding all forms of abuse in football. The JBG? report does an excellent job not only highlighting how far the game has come, but also how far we still have to go.”

The report can be read in full here:

It can also be accessed from our blog and website, alternatively you can request a PDF file.




Contact for further information:

Founder-Lindsay England