Participants from the Foundation’s Street Reds programme starred at Old Trafford during the match against Burnley on 11th February, taking to the field during half-time amid a celebration of the work of Kick It Out, football’s equality and inclusion organisation.
Founded in 1993, Kick It Out educates and campaigns to make the game a safer, more welcoming and comfortable environment free of all forms of discrimination, prejudiced attitudes and abusive behaviour.
Before the meeting between United and Burnley, both sets of players, management and staff embraced the diversity of English football by wearing Kick It Out t-shirts, while United’s ball boys paraded a banner around the pitch pre-match. At half-time, members of the Street Reds project took centre stage in an interval penalty shootout as a reward for their dedication to the programme.
The participants all hail from the Whalley Range branch of Street Reds, one of nine projects across Greater Manchester, and one which attracts players from a particularly diverse range of ethnicities and backgrounds. Each Friday night, over 60 young people attend to socialise and play football, free of charge, and the sessions have received resounding endorsements from those who attend.
“I’ve been coming to Street Reds for the last two years to play with my friends,” says Mohamed Mubarak, 17, of Fallowfield. “It’s a lot of fun and gives me something to do on a Friday night instead of going out and doing something stupid; this takes that away from me. The project gives us all opportunities to take advantage of and it’s a great to participate in something that we all love.”
Street Reds is particularly relevant to Kick It Out’s season-long campaign, which is specifically focused on supporting grassroots and community activity, as professional football clubs continue to play a leading role in spreading the message of inclusivity to all.
This season’s player ambassador, Chris Smalling, said, “No form of discrimination should be tolerated. In order to combat this issue we all need to work together – players, fans, governing bodies, schools, colleges, friends, neighbours, work colleagues – to educate people to understand that we are all different and those differences should be embraced.”
To keep up-to-date with the latest Kick It Out news or report discriminatory abuse, the organisation’s free app can be downloaded via the iTunes App Store and Google Play. You can get in touch by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org and via its Twitter, Facebook and Instagram accounts.
Find out more about Street Reds.