Sheffield football club bags Kick It Out award for commitment to stamping out discrimination
A grassroots football club from Sheffield has been recognised for its commitment to creating a more inclusive game by the sport’s leading equality organisation.
Handsworth FC of the Northern Counties East League Premier Division – Step 5 of the National League system - has signed up to Kick It Out’s Equality Charter, which is a set of guidelines that help foster a welcoming environment for everyone.
In signing up to the charter, clubs make a promise to promote equality and take active steps to tackle discrimination.
Steve Holmes vice chairman at Handsworth FC, said: “We read the criteria and, to be honest, we found that we ticked every box, without it being a box-ticking exercise.
"It’s something as a club we have always done.”
The Beautiful Game continues to be blighted by discrimination at all levels of the sport. According to Kick It Out’s reporting stats for the 2019/20 season, reports of abuse at grassroots level (below Step 4) rose by 11 per cent pro rata compared to the previous year.
Racism was the most common form of abuse reported.
Kick It Out’s head of player engagement, Troy Townsend, has described the grassroots game, where most participants play the sport, as the “wild, wild west” when it comes to discrimination.
“This gives us an opportunity to be a flagship and show other clubs how to do things,” said 50-year-old former finance worker Steve, who now spends most of his time volunteering at Handsworth along with more than 100 others who give up their free time to help run the club, which boasts 30 teams across different age groups and genders.
"We feel we just do the right things. Kick It Out were delighted with how we conducted ourselves.
"It’s part and parcel of our daily life, we just make sure that everybody feels inclusive and welcome regardless of creed, colour, orientation, whatever you want to be.”
Steve, who has been vice chairman for eight years and is also a drummer in the England band, believes Handsworth are the first club in the Sheffield & Hallamshire County FA area to have signed up to the charter.
"It’s a real feather in the cap for our 100-plus volunteers who just get on with things,” he added.
"We are proud as punch.”
Tajean Hutton, grassroots manager at Kick It Out, said: “Supporting clubs and organisations in being pro-active is just as important as the work we do when reacting to acts of discrimination.
“Having Handsworth FC on board as an Equality Chartered Club is both inspiring and motivating. We look forward to working with them long term in serving the Handsworth and surrounding communities the best way possible."