More than 500 children are to take part in a football tournament which aims to use the “beautiful game” to build understanding of race and gender issues.
The P7 children from nine schools in the north and west of Glasgow will field teams who will be a mix of ethnicity and gender.
The “A League for All” tournament was officially launched at Knightswood Primary School on Wednesday 10th February, 2010, one of the schools taking part. Brechin City manager and ex-Partick Thistle player Jim Duffy has been delivering the anti-racist educational sessions to the young people. Jim was joined today by other ex-Partick Thistle players Derek Ferguson and Chic Charnley alongside the current Jags midfielder Paul Cairney.
The tournament, which will be played at the Petershill complex in the middle of May, will take the form of a round robin event. The eventual winner will be decided by league position and goals scored. Teams will be five-a-side with player pools of 10 footballers.
The tournament is designed to raise awareness of issues around race and gender and to remove the barriers of exclusion through the game of football.
It is hoped that by linking football, with notions of equality, fairness, cooperation and competition, the league will be an opportunity to help reduce ignorance and encourage teamwork, leadership and friendship.
The partners in the tournament are Glasgow City Council, Patrick Thistle Football Club, Scottish Refugee Council, Show Racism the Red Card, The Jags Trust with support provided by the Scottish Fair Trade Forum and UNISON.
Cllr Jonathan Findlay, Executive Member for Education, said: “We are delighted that Glasgow schools are meeting the challenge of being the largest multi-cultural city in Scotland. It is a great idea and fantastic project. It uses the power of sport to help young Glaswegians build good community relations across cultures and faiths. On top of that it promotes a healthy lifestyle and encourages our youngsters to enjoy the fun of sport.”
Kieron Dempsey, Community Director at Partick Thistle Football Club/Jags Trust, said: "Partick Thistle Football Club and the Jags Trust are delighted to be involved with this event. We have a real opportunity here to focus on bringing together young people irrespective of race or gender to reduce barriers, improve understanding, promote team work, cooperation and - most importantly - fun, whilst highlighting the benefits of sport in gaining good health and fitness.
"This is a city that revolves around football it's great for Partick Thistle as the local club to be able to assist promote such a positive message through the medium of football to the children of Glasgow."
Billy Singh, Campaign Manager with Show Racism The Red Card said: ”A League For All is an excellent project, Glasgow’s school pupils are clearly very receptive to anti-racist education and when given the facts on issues around asylum, they respond positively.”
John Wilkes, chief executive of A League for All partner Scottish Refugee Council, said: “Glasgow is currently home to children from all over the world and so we are proud to offer support to a project which recognises and celebrates that fact.
“Events like these are not only great fun, but really help to break down barriers by bringing people together and giving them a common goal to pull together as a team regardless of race and gender.
“This city boasts professional players from a mix of faiths, religions and backgrounds, including several refugees. We hope this will inspire the young people involved in this league and help them reflect on the fact that football is a sport for all.”
The tournament will benefit from the support of the Scottish Fair Trade Forum which are providing footballs and promotional material for the schools taking part. UNISON sponsored the Partick Thistle FC / Show Racism the Red Card posters for the tournament and are also providing all participants with UNISON / Show Racism the Red Card drawstring bags.
John McAllion, Scottish Fair Trade Forum Board member, said “Show Racism the Red Card supports equal treatment for people of all nations and ethnicities and the Scottish Fair Trade Forum works to promote trade that treats producers living in the developing world more fairly. Both are key aspects of making fairness central to every aspect of our national life.
“We're pleased that Fairtrade footballs will be used in these coaching sessions, and we look forward to the time when all sporting kit and equipment used by Scottish teams are fair trade.”
Cathy Miller, branch secretary of UNISON's NHS Glasgow Clyde & CVS Branch, said: "UNISON has always been opposed to racism and discrimination. We have been in the forefront of campaigns against those who perpetrate racism and will continue to actively support Show Racism the Red Card."