just a ball game

Kick homophobia out of sport - just a ball game?

AFC Rushden and Diamonds

AFC Rushden & Diamonds launched the "think before you chant" campaign in September 2012 United Counties League Cup match against Wellingborough Whitworth.

The Diamonds have teamed up with two national campaigns "Just A Ball Game?" and "Kick It Out" which tackle homophobia and racism respectively within football.

Supporting the club in this initiative is local company Creation Signs who have generously donated a pitchside board for each of the campaigns and sponsored the match on Tuesday.

Just A Ball Game
Lindsay England, Founding Director of Just A Ball Game? which is a campaign group which challenges issues with homophobia and anti-gay prejudice and helps raise awareness around the inclusion of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender, spoke before Tuesday's game:

"We are delighted to have this welcome support from AFC Rushden & Diamonds and are very much looking forward to being part of the club’s respect programme of events this month, and the steps the club are taking to tackle issues around homophobia which sadly still exist in the game at all levels."

Kick it Out – RESPECT
The anti-racism campaign is well known throughout the football world and is designed to challenge discrimination and encourage inclusive practices and work for positive change.

Think before you chant
Chairman Ralph Burditt felt the two campaigns should be brought under the one umbrella and the club have had a number of signs manufactured to ask fans to think about what they are saying/chanting.

I am delighted that we have the opportunity to support Just a Ball Game?, Kick It Out and the RESPECT campaign. Discrimination of any kind has no place in football and I hope that the presence of the new advertising boards at the ground and the advertisements in the programme will serve as a gentle reminder to both home and away supporters that it will not be tolerated. I am particularly pleased that we are becoming only the second club in the UK to display a permanent advert for the Just a Ball Game? campaign.

The news story regarding Hyde FC's support for the campaign was what originally lead me to contact Lindsay from JBG?, and I would like to think that this story will similarly inspire another football club. It’s time that we all started speaking out against the institutionalised homophobia in football, much as people began to speak out about racism all those years ago.

Read the full story on the AFC Rushden and Diamonds website