On Sunday 3rd July, Slough’s Caribbean community came together at Arbour Park to host the Black on the Ball, Family Fun Day. The event was very well attended and thoroughly enjoyed by all in attendance.
The day started with multiple small-sided youth games before it transitioned into adult and vets football in the afternoon. In addition to the football, there was lots of Caribbean food and stalls as well as dancing and jump rope. Throughout the day, workshops were also run for the young people in attendance, to help in the event's mission of creating positive male role models for the community.
The Black on the Ball initiative “came from a call out from the majority of single mothers raising black or mixed heritage children” in Slough, explained Christina, who coordinated the event with the Mandem.
Christina described the rise of negative social activities that children are being exposed to in the area, including drug dealing and sexual exploitation and that children are being recruited through the promise of money and through grooming.
“There is also this post-code life that dictates that certain young people can't hang around or visit certain areas and if they do there are dire consequences, for example, being beaten up, stabbed or in some cases shot,” said Christina.
“Our Caribbean community is at the heart of a lot of the situations and for many years the women have been instrumental at the heart of the community groups involved as role models. Young people have expressed they require positive male role models, due to absent fathers, to act as mentors, uncles or big brothers in their life.
“There was a call out to the males in October 2021 and that is how the Mandem & I was launched and this Black on the Ball, Family Fun Day was the first event.”
Football is a powerful tool for bringing communities together and breaking down barriers. It offers a lot of opportunities both on-field and off-field and proved a great way to start powerful conversations and start making positive community advancements. It allows families to come together to support, spectate and compete against each other in the real spirit of community.
Berks & Bucks FA, Community & Inclusion Officer, Emma O’Hara, attended the event and reflected upon it by saying; “Experiencing the Black on the Ball Community Fun Day was brilliant. Seeing such a vibrant community coming together through football, music and food is exactly the type of event that the BBFA looks to support.
“The work that Christina and Gary are doing in the Slough community, through recognising the gap in local male role models, is inspiring and feels like the start of a positive change by the community, for the community.”
The event showcased the skills and ability of the black community coming together to put on such a successful event and highlighted Caribbean culture to the diverse community of Slough who attended.
Tan Dhesi, the MP for Slough also came along to the event and reflected after the event on Twitter by tweeting:
Black On The Ball family fun day at #Slough Town FC stadium -organised by Christina, the Mandem and other volunteers- was both uplifting and enjoyable.
Football, inspiring talks, workshops and activities provided our next generation community spirit and role models to aspire to.
If you are running any community events and would like support from the BBFA please reach out to Emma O'Hara, our Community and Inclusion Officer.
As an organisation, we would love to interact more with community groups across Berkshire and Buckinghamshire, so if you have any upcoming events, please do let us know as we would love to attend and explore ways we can strengthen and build communities through football.