Essex football clubs and leagues showed they’re true allies of LGBTQ+ inclusion during November and December when they showed their support for Stonewall’s award-winning Rainbow Laces campaign at their matches.
21,500 laces and 1,250 captain’s armbands were distributed nationally to clubs and leagues to wear at their games, with hundreds visible at matches in Essex, joining the Premier League, the EFL and the Barclays FA Women’s Super League in support of LGBTQ+ equality.
The campaign kicked-off on Friday 22nd November and ran through to Sunday 8th December, with all 50 County FAs involved in promoting it. According to Stonewall’s research, over four in ten LGBTQ+ (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) people (43 per cent) think public sporting events aren’t welcoming for them.
The combined efforts of clubs and leagues continues to generate awareness of, and help tackle, homophobia, transphobia and biphobia abuse. While progress has been made, there is still work to be done to encourage people to be active allies of LGBTQ+ people and make football ‘For All’.
The FA and the Essex County FA recognise football can play an important role in encouraging everyone to be themselves and creating acceptance in wider society. With this in mind, LGBTQ+ is a significant focus of ‘In Pursuit of Progress’, The FA’s equality, diversity and inclusion plan.
Cindi Chatha, Essex County FA Inclusion Development Officer, said: “The Rainbow Laces campaign is important in Essex grassroots as it reiterates that football is For All, regardless of any protected characteristics. Rainbow Laces helps create awareness and supports the LGBTQ+ communities within Essex. I'd like to thank the participating leagues, clubs, managers and players.”
“Without them, the weekends wouldn’t have been as hugely successful as they were. There were some very inventive uses of the laces, because the changes in the design of football boots means that not all boots have them. It was great to see how players used various ways to utilise their laces, like as bracelets or in ponytails!”
Find out more about inclusive grassroots football projects in the menus above, by following @EssexCountyFA on Twitter and by searching for ‘EssexFootball’ on Facebook.
Weekend 1 (Saturday 23rd and Sunday 24th November)
Pope & Smith Chelmsford Sunday League: Astechs Warriors, Chelmer Wanderers, Chelmsford Athletic, Danbury Athletic, Margaretting Sports & Social Club, Queens Park Hannakins, Sparta Broomfield. Also: Junior Red Star
Weekend 2 (Saturday 30th November and Sunday 1st December)
Southend Borough & District Football Combination: BKS Sports, Corinthian ‘B’, Earls Hall United Reserves, Earls Hall United, Pitsea Athletic, Southend Rangers Reserves. Essex Sunday Corinthian League: Abridge Village, Chingford Athletic Reserves, Cobra, Keith Park Rangers, Newham Athletic, Ping City Phoenixes, Roose, United Amateurs. Colchester & District Sunday League: CUSA, Phoenix, Wormingford Wanderers. Southend & Basildon Sunday League: Corinthians, Estuary United, Hullbridge Sports, Rochford Sports, Shoebury Athletic
Weekend 3 (Saturday 7th and Sunday 8th December)
Braintree & North Essex Sunday League: Bradwell Rovers, Dunmow Rhodes, Finchingfield Rovers, Great Bradfords, Panfield Bell, Stisted, Stisted Reserves. Essex County Women’s League: Beacon Hill Rovers, Chelmsford City, Chigwell, Frontiers, Southend United, Tigers. Also: Great Bradfords, United Amateurs Veterans, United Amateurs Under 14s, Essex Alliance League