Caversham United team photo with Rainbow Laces shirt sponsor

PRIDE at Caversham United

Steph Clark
For Caversham United, football is as much about social impact as it is simply the game.

For Caversham United, football is as much about social impact as it is simply the game.

For Club Secretary, Paul Gutteridge, Caversham United is about creating an inclusive environment where people feel comfortable to be themselves, where nobody is excluded, and people are brought together through a shared love for the game. 

Starting life with a single adult male Sunday League team the Club have grown into a 3 star-Accredited Club with a Women's team and a newly created Saturday League Men’s team and have aspirations to expand further still.

Providing football for over 100 members, the club is dedicated to using the power of football to help foster social change and promote awareness of important inclusion and awareness campaigns including Rainbow Laces, Football v Homophobia, Mental Health and Cancer charities.

“It’s 2024.” Paul said. “Nobody should be deterred from football, whether playing or any other involvement, because of who they like or love. The same for people’s race or religion, or any other characteristics. As a whole, I believe football is certainly more conscious of some of the issues it faces, sadly many of these are reflective of wider society. However, just because a problem is large or tricky doesn’t mean we can leave them unaddressed.” He added.

Over the last couple of seasons, Caversham United have been a regular presence and voice supporting inclusion initiatives, having twice been a #BBFAAllyClub whilst this season they have featured as an England Football hero club supporting Rainbow Laces and Stonewall UK in a video project as well as backing other community and inclusion programmes.

Asked why it was important to him that the club not only support but actively get involved in such initiatives and to promote social change, Paul said:

“For Rainbow Laces and Football v Homophobia specifically, as a club we have several players across our men’s and women’s teams who associate strongly with the campaign and may have been directly affected by discrimination against them because of their sexual orientation in the past.

“Caversham United aspire to be an inclusive football club, and without backing diversity and inclusion campaigns we would just be paying lip-service. I think it’s difficult for an individual club alone to make a big impact on the ultimate aims of a campaign, however, if our involvement can help to change the mindset of one or two people and encourage others to get involved in future iterations, I think that’s a really important and achievable step.”

With a large social media presence, Caversham United continue to actively champion inclusion and social change and Paul admits their proactive approach and commitment to creating a positive football environment has helped the club attract players and as he believes, helps support performance in general.

“I’ve already talked about inclusivity, and wanting players to feel both welcome at the club and relaxed when they are here and playing. That can only help people to perform better. A positive football environment hopefully translates to respect on the pitch, towards officials, opponents and teammates alike.” he said.

Asked what he would say to other grassroots clubs reading this, who have thought about promoting inclusions but haven’t done so yet or those who have wanted to get involved but are unsure of how to, Paul had this message: 

“I would highly encourage anyone reading this to get involved in these initiatives, even if it doesn’t immediately strike you as something that might be relevant to you now – it probably is and may well be in the future, so you’ll be better equipped for it if you start now, even if that start is small. As volunteers we don’t get paid for our hard work. We can get rewarded though, and I find that reward comes from the success of my club on and off the pitch. It’s worth the investment of your time, and communications from Berks & Bucks FA highlight lots of opportunities for getting involved.”

If you’d like to find out more about inclusion work at Berks & Bucks FA and how you can show your support and get involved in local and national campaigns, get in touch with Community & Inclusion Manager, Callum Salhotra via email

Alternatively, head to the dedicated Inclusion section of our website for more information about the type of work we are doing for football across the region.

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