Sport EnglandSPORT ENGLAND MUST FUND GRASS-ROOTS ORGANISATIONS IF IT WANTS TO REDUCE HOMOPHOBIA, CAMPAIGN GROUP URGES.
Sport England was today urged that unless it can provide more funding to grassroots organisations, it will be impossible to rid homophobia from sport.
Manchester-based Just a Ball Game?, which campaigns against homophobia in football, said that vital work was being undermined by Sport England’s failure to finance both local community and national initiatives.
The campaign group which has worked with clubs including Capital One Cup finalists Bradford City, Hyde FC and AFC Rushden & Diamonds to reduce homophobia among players and fans - has seen its latest bid for funding turned down. Just a Ball Game?, which relies upon small donations and the work of volunteers to keep afloat, has been commended by the TUC for its work in improving the perception of gay, lesbian, bi-sexual and transsexuals. The campaign has produced a template guide for fans and clubs to combat LGBT discrimination in football. Just a Ball Game? says it wants to work with clubs across the UK but needs urgent funding support to do so.
Just a Ball Game? director Lindsay England said: “Sport England funding applications are only available to those who meet the strict criteria and they only come around every few years and it is really disappointing that local grass-roots organisations like Just a Ball Game? are missing out.”
“We have worked hard to establish links with local clubs and think we have developed a successful guide for fans and clubs that can be put into practice elsewhere. However, we won’t be able to pass on the full extent of our knowledge unless funding is given to local initiatives like ours.”
TUC equality officer Peter Purton said: “The TUC has been working with Just a Ball Game? and other grass-roots campaigns in challenging homophobia in football for the past few years. “We were surprised to see Sport England turn down Just a Ball Game? given the great work it has undertaken, on a shoestring budget, to working with clubs and supporters to make football genuinely more inclusive and welcoming. Organisations like Just a Ball Game? have a crucial role to play in combating discrimination, and need to be supported.”
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Director -Lindsay England