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Tuesday, June 18, 2024

Sport Campaign Against Racism hosts landmark event highlighting diversity and inclusion

SCAR event shines light on diversity and inclusion in sports

In a pivotal event hosted by the Sport Campaign Against Racism (SCAR) at the Manningham Mills Sport & Community Association, the focus was on extending diversity and inclusion efforts beyond sports. The gathering spotlighted SCAR’s strategic pillars: Awareness, Education, Support, and Advocacy, which form the backbone of their mission to combat discrimination across sports, education, and community engagement.

The evening’s highlight was a dynamic panel discussion featuring both professional and grassroots insights from prominent figures in football, cycling, and cricket. Panellists shared personal stories and challenges, emphasizing the power of collective action in the fight against discrimination.

SCAR’s founders, Karl Oxford, Shadow Parvais, and Delroy Dacres, although absent, received recognition for their years of service

Special recognition was given to SCAR’s founders, Karl Oxford, Shadow Parvais, and Delroy Dacres, celebrating nearly 20 years of dedication to promoting diversity and inclusion. Although Delroy Dacres was absent due to illness, his contributions were warmly acknowledged. Karl Oxford chaired the event with distinction, fostering a spirit of collaboration and commitment to progress.

A key moment was the presentation of the report “The Changing Rooms to Make Change,” commissioned by the West Riding County FA (WRCFA). This report provided an in-depth look into the experiences of 10 grassroots football clubs in Bradford, painting a troubling picture of racism and discrimination.

The reports findings revealed:

  1. Wide spread racism. Frequent and severe instances of racial abuse and discrimination, were reported both on and off the field.
  2. Lack of Support from Authorities:

Many clubs expressed frustration with the football authorities, including the WRCFA, citing inadequate support and mishandling of complaints.

  1. Unfair Treatment:

Clubs from minority communities reported facing harsher sanctions and receiving less support compared to their counterparts.

  1. Need for Systemic Change:

The report called for comprehensive reforms within the WRCFA to effectively address these issues and restore trust among grassroots clubs.

  1. Concerns about Football For Peace:

The report raised concerns about funding allocation and transparency, specifically pointing out that Football For Peace (FFP) received £10,000 from The FA. Clubs expressed a lack of trust in FFP, citing perceived credibility issues and unfulfilled promises to players and clubs.

Representatives from the Football Association (FA) and the WRCFA addressed the audience, highlighting progress made since the report’s release. Notable advancements include the implementation of the WRCFA Race Equality Action Plan and the appointment of a Diversity, Equality & Inclusion Lead to tackle these critical issues.

The panellists discussing at the event.

This landmark event underscored the ongoing challenges in promoting diversity and inclusion and the urgent need for continued efforts and systemic change in sports and beyond. Dr. Ikram Butt, Executive Director of SCAR, expressed heartfelt thanks to the panellists and attendees: “We were pleased with the turnout and the meaningful conversations that took place. Our distinguished panellists, including Fozia Naeem (Give Bradford & founder of Hop On Bike), Fatima Khan-Shah (West Yorkshire Mayor’s Inclusivity Champion), Ravi Dharni (Secretary at Albion Sports), Troy Townsend MBE (Kick It Out), Zohaib Rashid (Journalist & founder of Desiballers), Yunus Lunat (Lawyer & former FA Council Member), Taj Butt (Qaid-e-Azam Cricket League), Ahmed Turabi (Academic), Anwar Uddin MBE (FA), and Ashraf Wallace (WRCFA), shared invaluable experiences and insights that highlighted both the challenges and the progress being made in promoting diversity and inclusion.

Dr Ikram Butt, Executive director of the Sports Campaign against Racism

I also want to extend our gratitude to all attendees, including councillors from Bradford and Kirklees: Cllr David Ward, a former MP, Cllr Amran, Cllr Hussain, and Cllr Masood (both from Kirklees). Your presence and participation underscore the importance of collective action and community involvement in combating discrimination and fostering inclusivity.”

Troy Townsend MBE, who spoke passionately on the role of football in tackling racism, stated: “An inspiring evening of honest conversation, it was a pleasure to be invited and be in the room. The work of SCAR is massively important for the community they serve and tonight and the report proves that. Football needs to learn and listen to its community and understand the complexities that still exists to enable the game to make positive change.”

Fatima Khan-Shah, the West Yorkshire Mayor’s Inclusivity Champion, added: “The discussions tonight have shown that while we have made some progress, there is still much work to be done. Inclusivity must be at the heart of everything we do, and events like this, championed by SCAR and Dr Ikram Butt are crucial in driving that change.”

Fozia Naseem

Fozia Naseem, who spoke on the challenges and opportunities in cycling, emphasised:

“Cycling can be a powerful tool for bringing communities together, but we need to ensure that it’s accessible and welcoming to everyone. Sharing our experiences helps to highlight the barriers that exist and how we can overcome them together.”

Profile image for Councillor Mohammed Amran
Councillor Mohammed Amran. Image: Bradford Council

Cllr Amran added: “It is evident that more support is needed for local clubs to effectively address discrimination. We must work towards ensuring that our grassroots organisations receive the necessary recourses and backing from football authorities. “The audience comprised individuals from grassroots clubs throughout West Yorkshire, Bradford Local Authority, Yorkshire Sport, and the Bradford City FC Community Foundation, among others, who actively participated in the discussions and provided feedback on SCAR’s strategic direction.

The event underscored the importance of collective action and community involvement in combating discrimination and promoting inclusivity.

To get involved or find out more SCAR can be contacted at info@scarunites.org

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