Berkshire football clubs Maidenhead United, Holyport and Caversham United, as well as Bucks based MK City have all signed up as ‘ally clubs’ for this years Rainbow Laces campaign.
All four clubs have pledged to work with the Berks & Bucks County FA to actively promote LGBTQ+ inclusion and awareness throughout the national campaign which began on Thursday 25th November and ends on Sunday 12th December.
As ally clubs, the four sides will dedicate a male and female first team fixture to Stonewalls Rainbow Laces campaign and will share support at the fixtures through their websites and social media channels.
Steph Clark, Berks & Bucks FA Communications Officer said; “As a County FA we are committed to driving inclusion across the sport and to ensuring that football provides safe and welcoming environments for all to enjoy.
“We believe that sport, and in particular, football has a truly unique ability to connect people from all walks of life and change lives through shared passion. Football is everyone’s game, and no one should feel excluded from taking part because of who they are.
“We are proud to be working closely with our BBFA Ally Clubs during the Rainbow Laces campaign to help ensure that football in our region really is a game for all.”
Stonewall, the LGBTQ+ charity behind the long-running Rainbow Laces campaign, estimates that more than a million people have laced up in support of the campaign and two thirds of sport fans who’ve seen it believe they have a responsibility to stand in solidarity for LGBTQ+ fans of the teams and sports they follow.
The charity also says however, that research conducted in 2017, showed that 43% of LGBTQ+ people think public sporting events aren’t a welcoming space for them. (YouGov for Stonewall, 2017).
This year, the charity evolved the campaign and is asking people not just to wear rainbow laces, but to start a conversation with friends and family, in a club or with teammates about why they wear Rainbow Laces, encouraging people to ‘Lace Up and Speak Up’ together as a sign of commitment.