Thu, Dec 3rd, 2015
Show Racism the Red Card (SRTRC) has been actively campaigning against racism since 1996. The organisation is active in several countries and produces anti-racist educational resources that harness the high profile of professional footballers to combat racism. They received funding for an Erasmus+ KA2 School Education Strategic Partnership project called ‘Training for Trainers’ in 2015. Co-ordinator Garrett Mullan reports on the first project meeting:
“SRTRC Ireland hosted the first meeting of our Erasmus+ Strategic Partnership involving partners and friends in Denmark, Finland, the Netherlands, Northern Ireland and the United Kingdom.
Minister for New Communities, Equality and Culture Aodhán Ó Riordáin TD spoke to our international guests and participated in a discussion about challenges of tackling racism in Ireland and Europe. The discussion involved teachers, principals, youth workers and campaign workers sharing their stories and ideas regarding racism and the ways in which they have dealt with it.
For example, Sunil Patel works with SRTRC in Wales with a team of education workers and ex-professional players like Leroy Rosenior. They visit schools to deliver coaching, teacher training and education workshops. Before the workshops they learned that surprisingly large numbers of children thought it was ok to use racist terms. There was also anxiety within the teaching profession about tackling racism. He spoke about a primary school pupil named Hannah, who was experiencing terrible racist abuse at school. Her mother phoned the SRTRC office. When the school was contacted, the principal initially was hesitant and reluctant and even denied there were racist incidents. However, once the school was reassured that the project was there to help, they welcomed the workshops into the school. At the end of the workshop, on their own initiative, two of the pupils who were giving racist abuse to Hannah apologised for the hurt they caused.
Kay McCabe from Involve Youth service spoke of their involvement with SRTRC. 80% of the young people using the service are from traveller backgrounds. This year they had an impressive entry for the SRTRC Creative Competition, where they engaged local politicians and others to support their message of making a stand against racism. It illustrated the creativity of different groups in how they develop their anti-racism messages.
In the afternoon, we had presentations from Des Tomlinson (FAI Intercultural Co-ordinator), Michael Boyd (Irish FA Director of Football) and Simon Christensen (Danish Players Union Social Responsibility). While sport is widely acknowledged as a vehicle for bringing people together, it can also be tool for division. We all have to work carefully to create a safe environment to build for the future.
Michael Boyd said that in 2000, the environment at Northern Ireland international matches was not safe for many people. As the Community Relations manager, he engaged with supporters first and then other stakeholders to develop a strategy for increasing participation. This anti-racism and anti-sectarianism supporter-led strategy has made football more inclusive to everyone.
Simon Christensen of the Danish Players Union explained how some of the professional players in their association are also signed up as SRTRC ambassadors.
Towards the close of the meeting, Ged Grebby (Chief Executive of SRTRC UK) said: “At a time when the far right are calling for a ‘closure of all borders’ after the horrendous events in Paris: it is vital that anti-racism knows no borders. Our meeting was a great opportunity to swap good practice between the different countries that were attending. We look forward to building upon this international meeting – unity is strength!”.
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