On Saturday 3rd September, BBFA joined Reading FC Community Trust and the Proud Royals at Reading Pride’s Love Unites Festival to show the LGBTQ+ Community that football is For All.
The morning started with the Love Unites Parade marching from Reading Train Station to Kings Meadow to kick start the Love Unites Festival, where the BBC reported more than 13,000 people attended. After almost seven months since their launch, Proud Royals joined in the parade, led by Tom Williams, the Chair and Founder.
Tom wants to, “bring all our fans together, whether they're gay or straight, as we all love the same things, football and Reading FC."
Reading Pride was the perfect opportunity to meet the LGBTQ+ community and show them that steps are being taken to make football spaces more inclusive and safe. It was brilliant to see such a sporting presence at the Love Unites Festival with rugby and hockey also being represented there.
Last month Proud Royals implemented a new initiative at the Select Car Leasing Stadium as they took a step closer to creating an inclusive environment on match days.
They have introduced LGBTQ+ Liaison Stewards, who are identifiable by their rainbow armbands. These stewards will carry out the role alongside their normal stewarding duties but have an enhanced understanding of issues that might affect the LGBTQ+ community. This gives both home and visiting supporters an easily identifiable point of contact in the event that they see, hear or experience any form of harassment.
Rich Howgill, our IAG Chair was at the event and said, “It was brilliant to see BBFA collaborating with the Proud Royals and Reading FC Community Trust to promote inclusive football at Reading Pride this weekend and so encouraging to see people signing up in large numbers to the new Inclusive Football sessions.
“The level of engagement of the LGBTQ+ community with football on the day shows there is an appetite for involvement with football within the community and that events and initiatives like this are making a real difference.”
The BBFA are proudly supporting the Rainbow Royals free football sessions, which after three successful events in June, July and August are now going to run on a weekly basis on Wednesday at 6 - 7pm from the 7th September on the 3G pitch behind the Dome at the Select Car Leasing Stadium.
The sessions are a great place to meet new people and play football in a safe and welcoming environment with the support of FA Qualified Coaches. The sessions are open to people of all genders over the age of 16, regardless of football experience.
Emma O’Hara, our Community & Inclusion Officer was also at Reading Pride and supporting the Rainbow Royals Sessions and said, “Taking football to the communities we are trying to engage with is crucial for showcasing that football is welcoming and a place for them too. I met a few people who were surprised about football and other sports being at a Pride Festival, so it was great to engage in conversations.
“Unsurprisingly, a lot of our conversations turned to the success of the Lionesses, so it was brilliant to see the impact that the Euros tournament has had and I’m hoping that this momentum and feeling of inclusion can continue into the Men’s World Cup campaign.”
If you’re interested in attending the Rainbow Royals Sessions, you are invited to just turn up on a Wednesday to the session! If you would like more information, please contact Emma O'Hara
, our Community & Inclusion Officer.
You can also find out more about Proud Royals here