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Coalition forms to bring 'Race for Sport' roadshow

RACISM VICTIMS: Patrice Evra, left, and Kevin Prince Boateng

SADLY, UNDER-15s schoolboys at a Leicester football club have more in common with Patrice Evra and Kevin Prince-Boateng than their love of the beautiful game.

These players – from grassroots to Premiership have been racially abused in matches, prompting Leicester’s Nirvana Football Club (NFC) to play a leading role in organising the first national ‘Race for Sport’ Road Show in the UK on Wednesday March 20.

In partnership with the Society of Black Lawyers (SBL), Black and Asian Coaches Association (BACA) and The Voice, Nirvana, led by club chairman Kirk Master, wants to set an agenda to finally combat racial discrimination wherever it exists.

It is a huge task, but it’s all the more powerful that it has been started at the grassroots of football where pitch-side parents and their children have finally had enough of racist abuse at matches.

The road show will be the first of several nationally, including an event in Birmingham and London before the end of the season. It will culminate in an international conference to be held at the Institute of Education in London on September 25 where key players, managers and sports personalities from the US and Europe will meet.

Their main aim is to ensure a comprehensive hate crime strategy is adopted by sporting bodies internationally to eradicate racial hatred, anti-Semitism and other forms of unlawful abuse on and off the pitch.

Peter Herbert, who chairs the SBL, is currently in America talking to the US Government about this issue. He will be one of the keynote speakers at the Leicester road show to be held between 5.30pm and 9pm at the African Caribbean Centre in Maidstone Road, Highfields.

Herbert is encouraged by the support and publicity the campaign has already received both on a political level and from professional players.

“We hope that this road show will provide a wake up call for those in football to take the concerns of our communities seriously,” he said. “It’s time the FA and other football authorities listened to the needs of the black and minority community who make such an important contribution to football in the UK and around the world.

“The actions of Kevin Prince-Boateng demonstrated what black football players can achieve if they are prepared to exert the power that lies in their hands.”

Kirk Master, NCF chair, said the aim of the road shows was to compile a report to present to the FA and Hugh Robertson, Minister for Sport.

Master added: “We want to get to the heart of communities and hear what their experiences are. We want to listen to these people who are on the ground at grassroots football level to see what is happening.

“We have a responsibility to stand up and examine what the situation is and how we can make things better.”

Colin King, who chairs the BACA said: “After many years working with the FA and the other football agencies, I welcome a critical open debate to develop a more elaborate, strategic, bottom upwards approach that is truly inclusive of all parties.”

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