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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 


Monday, August 31, 2020

JBG? team up with GMB Shout! NW with donation to homeless refuge.


JBG? team up with GMB Shout! NW with donation to homeless refuge.
With this year's Manchester Pride cancelled because of the Covid-19 situation, GMB Shout! NW teamed up with JUST A BALL GAME? and put their time and effort into making a donation of food and toiletries to TRAMWAYS who provide emergency accommodation for the homeless.
The items were gratefully received by the business owner Sonia, who thanked everyone for "The very generous donation given, " and staff member Stewart at the Bolton refuge.
The handover of items was also supported by local GMB Bolton23 branch president Jo Pitchford and branch secretary Alan Flatley along with GMB NW&I political officer Neil Smith. They were all joined by
JBG? founder Lindsay England who works for Events Security Services at the complex.

Several months ago an online poll of 2,109 people by YouGov on behalf of the LGBT youth homelessness  charity AKT (formerly known as the Albert Kennedy Trust) found a quarter of adults in the UK would not feel proud to have an LGBT+ child, as part of a new study.

They  asked people how they would feel in a range of scenarios if they had a child who came out to them as lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender, other.

When respondents were asked whether they would “feel proud to have an LGBT child”, 26 per cent of those polled disagreed.

Less than half (46 per cent) of people surveyed agreed with the statement that they would feel proud to have a child who had come out. 

We know that LGBT+ youth are disproportionately likely to experience homelessness, comprising as high as 40%  of the total population of youth experiencing homelessness. LGBT+  and young people of colour reported twice the rate of homelessness compared to white LGBT+ youngsters. 



Saturday, May 16, 2020


JUST A BALL GAME?  MEDIA RELEASE                                      


Violence, Harassment and repression of LGBT+ people still exists globally. 

Annually on May17th, IDAHOBIT- International Day Against Homophobia Biphobia and Transphobia is a co-ordinated International grass roots community date to raise awareness around LGBT+ visibility and inclusion, alongside encouraging society to take action against homophobia, biphobia and transphobia.

For this year’s IDAHOBIT theme of ‘Breaking The Silence’ JUST A BALL GAME? (JBG?) in partnership with LGBT Dorset Equality Network, have released a survey: looking at homophobia, biphobia and transphobia in sport.

It is hoped that whatever the outcomes, and/or differences found to our survey results (and therefore hard evidence collated for use) a decade ago, we can implement the findings to engage in dialog with the policy makers, NGB’s, the media, employers and general public to take action against any discrimination, persecution or hate crime which LGBT+ people face.
Despite advancement over recent years with some athletes ‘coming out’ sports are still very much an area of perceived male, masculine dominance and achievement. Along with the breaking down of these stereotypes and challenging sexism and misogyny there is also a need to try and eradicate to a minimum all forms of discrimination. 

Our survey is anonymous, it will take you around 5 minutes to sign into and complete and will be available to fill out until 11th July 2020.

We have allocated inclusive questions for both LGBT+ people and those who identify as heterosexual to answer to try and establish a balanced overview of what is relevant to all in 2020.


Contact for further information:

Saturday, February 01, 2020

Phuti Lekoloane becomes a patron of JUST A BALL GAME?

Phuti Lekoloane becomes a patron of JUST A BALL GAME?

South African full time goalkeeper Phuti Lekoloane becomes a patron of JUST A BALL GAME? 

As LGBT History Month 2020 kicks off, here at JUST A BALL GAME? (JBG?) we are happy to announce that the only ‘out’ gay South African full time footballer, Makapanstad Romans’ goalkeeper Phuti Lekoloane joins us as a patron.

Co-Chair of (JBG?) Alan Mercel-Sanca says, “We feel privileged when athletes from across the globe join our campaign and are excited at having Phuti on board.”   

Phuti wasn’t always a keeper, during his school days at Nkoana Primary and then Alan Ridge combined school he began his playing days as a right winger and sometimes a striker. 

Sadly Phuti faced bullying at a young age and in those days considered this to be the norm. He quit the game, and instead played netball. Physical harm followed when he was in his teenage years and it’s there realisation kicked in that this discrimination was wrong.

As a full time player Phuti also faced much discrimination and homophobia so it took some years to settle with a team and be accepted. Looking back to when he joined Tornardo FC the best thing about his time there was, Phuti says, “It’s that I was allowed to be myself and express myself all the time. I think the most important thing was I was never reminded that I am sexually different to others, the brotherhood was on another level.”

When asked about his thoughts on joining JBG? and being an ‘out and proud role model’ Phuti says, “ There are big responsibilities in shaping the future of the next generation of young LGBT+ athletes and taking the bait – I’ll help to create a safe space for them.”