Regardless of age, gender, sexual orientation, race, nationality, religion or beliefs, ability or disability, football is for everyone.
And that’s something that needs to be accepted by every football fan across the globe.
It’s inevitable that, as today’s generations grow older, football will become more inclusive on a global scale. The game is already progressing in the form of inclusivity, but there’s a lot more work that needs to be done before everyone feels fully welcome within the game.
As a platform that champions grassroots football, PENALTY has witnessed first-hand how progressive the game really is from the ground. With teams and leagues around the world coming together to support everyone who wants to be involved in football, the grassroots movement is certainly an inspiration for the progression of the game as the bigger picture.
With initiatives such as Stonewall whose, iconic Rainbow Laces have become a symbol of inclusion across sport and fitness, or the various teams spread across the country that are inclusive of everyone, it’s these kind of initiatives that the top organisations need to be integrating into the bigger picture.
The recent news of Blackpool’s Jake Daniel’s coming out as gay is the honesty and bravery that will move the game forward. With Daniels being the first openly gay player currently in England’s top four divisions, the strength of the young player is astounding.
Whether it’s opening up about mental health, the growth of the women involved in the game, or players coming out, the top organisations need to start listening to figures such as Daniels, and subsequently start employing people involved in the game to educate and move the sport in the right direction.
Whilst the vast majority of us believe that Jake will only be supported for his bravery, it’s ultimately a concern that the competitive nature of football will override this and create a toxic environment which could openly use sexuality as an insult in-game situations.
Continuing to have conversations with people from both inside and outside of the game and seeing the progression that the grassroots football movement is making, it’s clear that football from the top is being left behind in the times. If anything, we need more bravery and support from players and organisations from the top to move the game in the right direction. Championing unique stories and making the grassroots movement more visible is certainly a way in which football could catch up.
Countless individuals, grassroots organisations, and sports clubs are already creating space for LGBTQ+ people and offering safety, security, and opportunity for those in our community. But we’re always strongest when we work together and uplift one another. If you’d like to get involved with the rainbow laces initiative you can head to stonewall.co.uk, or head to Our For Sport to see various teams across the country that you can join. If you’re looking to get involved within football and are not sure how, then get in touch with us at PENALTY and we’ll help you find a team that makes you feel welcomed.