Show Racism the Red Card began 2009 with a well-attended and supported event at one of the most impressive venues in England.
Arsenal TV filmed the whole event and you can watch the documentary they made here.
125 young people from Islington Primary Schools joined around 40 adults from many different organisations in the Royal Oak Suite at the Emirates Stadium. The assembled audience were keen to take part in an event that featured a screening of the new SRtRC film and a Q&A session with a huge panel, which included Arsenal FC first team player, Abou Diaby.
To get the event underway SRtRC Education, Information and Events worker, Laura Fleck, who chaired proceedings, introduced Cllr. Ruth Polling, Executive Member for Equalities and Leisure at Islington Council who said a few words of welcome and support for the day. Islington Council have sponsored this season’s SRtRC Arsenal FC poster, free copies of which were distributed free of charge at the event and by the Club, Council and Campaign throughout the season so far.
Following this, Laura talked to the assembled young people about racism, using some of the techniques and strategies developed in SRtRC’s direct work in schools in the North East. The young people responded well to the short session and seemed to have a good understanding of the issue. Campaign Worker (England), Gavin Sutherland then said a few words about the SRtRC Anti-Racist School Competition 2009. The campaign hopes to again increase the amount of schools taking part and to inspire the young people present, the winning animation from the 2008 competition was screened. This entry from Rosslyn Park Primary, Nottingham, is also one of the extras on the new SRtRC DVD, which was also to be screened at the event.
Indeed, UK Project Coordinator, Ged Grebby introduced the film, drawing the attention of the audience to the Samuel E’too incident and impact on him, which is featured therein. The young people in the audience were reminded that following the screening, there would be the chance to ask questions on racism to the panel. The audience watched the film attentively and it was good to see it shown on the largest screen yet!
Before the Q&A got started, the Chair, introduced the panel, which included comedian Stephen K. Amos, Chelsea Women’s team and USA International player Lorrie Fair, former professional footballers and Arsenal players, Paul Davis and Brendon Batson, former professional footballer and representing the PFA, Bobby Barnes, SRtRC Head Coach and former Sunderland Skipper, Gary Bennett, Minister of State for Schools and Learners, Jim Knight MP, Cllr. Ruth Polling, Superintendent John Sutherland of the Metropolitan Police, UNISON National Executive Member and former President, Norma Stephenson, FIF-Pro representative and former professional footballer, Tony Higgins, and finally current Arsenal player, Abou Diaby.
There was also time for Bobby Barnes and Norma Stephenson to present long-standing SRtRC patron and ex-Arsenal winger Paul Davis, with a Hall of Fame award for all of his support of the campaign over the years. Bobby spoke of Paul’s commitment to tackling racism and photos were taken as the award was presented.
The Q&A that followed was very good, the questions had been well thought out by the young people who were fortunate enough to get the opportunity to ask them. There were so many hands in the air and such an interesting mix of experiences and advice from the members of the panel that the session could have gone on indefinitely. However, in the end seven lucky members of the audience were presented with signed SRtRC T-Shirts signed by Abou Diaby and the pupil who was judged by Ged Grebby and Gary Bennett to have asked the best question of the day received an Arsenal FC football signed by the whole squad.
The event then officially drew to a close with Jim Knight MP saying some fitting words of thanks and support, which were echoed by the rest of the panel. Following this was a press and photo opportunity session which the winners and the panel took part in. The rest of the audience were able to remain in the Royal Oak Suite where they were able to get their Arsenal FC posters signed by Abou and other panel members after the photo opportunity had finished and the panel returned.
Show Racism the Red Card wish to thank Arsenal FC for hosting another great event, particularly Alex Henderson and Helena Holm for their help in organising the day and all of the staff on duty at the event. Big thanks also to all of the panel, schools and young people for attending and taking part. I am sure that the young people in attendance would have taken a very positive anti-racist message away with them, which would hopefully be shared with the rest of the school. We would also like to thank RedCurrant Events and their staff Neil and Joe for their excellent support on the day and supply and operation of the AV equipment.