Hosted by Kick It Out – the national organisation that campaigns against discrimination in football – the event involved interactive workshops and activities, including a presentation by former Manchester United player Quinton Fortune.
Over 100 pupils from the Foundation’s 20 partner schools across Greater Manchester took part in the event, which saw them learn about the importance of kicking racism and other form of discrimination out of football, and how to report such incidents if they are witnessed at a football match.
Ex-Red Quinton addressed the audience of young people with tales of his youth, growing up in an underprivileged area of Cape Town, South Africa, in which his life could have taken a very different path. Upon his move to the UK at the age of 14, Quinton did not speak English and had to quickly accustom himself to a new culture.
“Today has been amazing; it is important to spend time with these kids, tell them my story, and also listen to the experiences they’ve had,” said Quinton. “I hope that by sharing my story it inspires the pupils to do something great in life.”
Quinton continued, “It’s important to start education at a young age so that children can understand that racism shouldn’t be in the game. I gave them some examples of what I have been through and hopefully they will go away and understand more about what’s happening in society and how we can raise awareness of the Kick It Out campaign and Black History Month.”
Burnage Academy for Boys pupil, McKenzie, 13, was pleased to have met the former Red while also understanding more about the campaign. He said: “We’ve been learning about Kick It Out and how we can stop racism and discrimination around us, for example at football matches and at school. If someone’s racist or discriminates against you you can report it on the Kick It Out app, or say something to them so they know that it’s wrong.”
McKenzie added: “We did a Q&A with Quinton which was really fun, he seemed like a really nice person and he told us about how he tackled racism through his football matches and how in South Africa it was really bad when he was young.”
Manchester United’s Equality and Inclusion Officer, Rishi Jain, also explained the importance of running racism workshops and celebrating Black History Month. Rishi said: “It’s been great for us as a club because we’ve been able to engage with a key partner in Kick It Out, and send a really positive message to the young people involved in our Foundation programme. To have someone like Quinton being the face of the event for us and giving an insight into his career is priceless – you can’t really buy that sort of experience.”