Inclusion and Anti-Discrimination

Inclusion Advisory Group (IAG)

Ensuring Football is For All


In December 2012, The FA Board Approved English Football’s Inclusion And Anti-Discrimination Plan 2013-2017, Which Brings Together Varied Stakeholders From Across The Game With A Comprehensive Plan To Promote Inclusion And Tackle Discrimination In All Its Forms.

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(T): 01785 256994 



Widen football’s talent pool-by recruiting volunteer IAG members to support CFAs develop inclusive county plans, and add capacity to CFA Boards, Councils and Committee

Clarify anti-discrimination regulations and sanctions-by assisting CFAs with raising awareness of the minimum five match ban for abusive or discriminatory behaviour; and mandatory equality education

Instill confidence in reporting discrimination-through raising awareness within the wider football community on how to report discrimination, and advising on tactics to instill confidence in the reporting and disciplinary process

Increase knowledge and awareness-by supporting CFAs with embedding inclusive practices within existing development programmes, and promoting education in equality.

It is paramount that equality and inclusion is incorporated into our project planning, organisation and delivery by our staff to develop football and increase participation. The County Inclusion Strategy aims to promote the Association’s wide ranging equality agenda across the FA’s four strategic goals of Growth and Retention, Better Players, Running the Game and Raising Standards. It outlines the action that the Association take to ensure equality of opportunity for those administering and playing the game.

As part of the Plan, Staffordshire FA has created an Inclusion Advisory Group (IAG) to oversee the wider aspect of Equality in relation to the County FA Business. The IAG will enable Staffordshire FA to consult with diverse communities, and ensure that the services we provide meet any gaps in provision and are relevant to the needs of our local football communities.


IAG Chairperson
Carl Bennett

Carl has had a long and varied career in sport, leisure and public health management. Having worked in the public sector for over 30 years Carl established amber Health Insight Ltd in 2015. During 2015/16 he worked for a number of organisations nationally and became a peer reviewed / appointed Expert Advisor for the Commissioning Support for Local Authorities initiative, one of eight advisor’s nationally, working for the Chief Culture and Leisure Officers Association in association with Sport England.  

Carl is a Chartered Fellow of CIMSPA and served as an Elected Board Member (NED) over a 4 year period spending a short tenure as Chairperson. He led the organisation through the appointment process for the CEO, Chairperson and the Sport England mandated Governance Review. Carl is a Visiting Fellow at Staffordshire University, an honorary role, where he actively delivers and engages in lectures and supports the University Leadership in community based decision making and advocacy. 

Extremely proud of the fact that he is one of 2 registered Quest Validators for the ‘Stretch’ validation process, having the potential to award an organisation the highest Quest award possible – Carl has recently been appointed, via a further peer review process, as a Quest Assessors for the newly introduced Active Partnerships (previously - County Sports Partnerships) ‘Performance Management Improvement Framework’. His appointment has been endorsed by Sport England and the Active Partnerships Network. 

For the past 4 years Carl has volunteered his time as a NED on the Staffordshire County Cricket Board where he leads and champions the partnership theme.  

In September 2016 Carl was appointed as the Inclusion, Disability and Health Lead at Stoke City Football Club. Working in the Community Trust, the charitable arm of the organisation, Carl heads up a number of initiatives to increase the engagement of decision makers and service shapers locally to ensure Stoke City Community Trust is seen as an active provider within the local disability landscape. Carl’s work supports the Premier League and Stonewall LGBTQ+ theme in an advisory capacity and the FA’s Refugee & Asylum Seeker Network. Carl is an advocate for Equality & Diversity and has well established links with LA’s, the local NHS, NGO’s and NGB’s within Staffordshire, regionally and nationally.  

Over the past 10 years Carl’s personal objective has been to give back to the sector that has provided him with a fantastically interesting and diverse career. This has seen him present at many conferences and seminars, writing in numerous sector magazines / journals and volunteering as a coach in grass roots sport. 

Steph Alexander

Service Manager at Staffordshire Women’s Aid has enhanced knowledge regarding Domestic and Sexual Violence victim experiences and Child Protection. 

As a graduate in Psychology and Criminology BSc, and in extension to her role at the Staffordshire Women’s Aid, Steph brings a wealth of knowledge in risk management and Gender Equality / In-equality. Further to this, Steph has an added interest in football as she has Co-run a male adult football team in Stafford and district Sunday league for an impressive 19 seasons!!

Steph is passionate about equality and inclusion. She believes the football can have increased influence on individuals as well as communities, and can strive to create a culture of equality, fairness, opportunity, respect and trust.

Raymond Lynn

Founder of FairFootball, Raymond has specific knowledge around providing equal opportunities in football. Raymonds Charity focusses on providing education and football opportunities for the BAME community, in ensuring under-represented groups have the support to engage in all activity.

Raymond has further expertise in providing education of Equality for all; through education establishments and community groups. Raymond’s focus is on the influence and impact that ‘culture’ has on various forms of discrimination as well as community issues such as; anti-social behaviour, threat of terrorism, gang violence and hate crime. Raymond is passionate about promoting social inclusion and continually works to knock down social barriers.

Jonathon Connolly

John leads on the Staffordshire Space positive activities program delivered through the summer holidays aimed at young people aged between 11-17 . Space is all about giving young people the opportunity to build on their skills, improve their fitness and get involved in some fun, positive activities. John has an interest in inclusion for young people including increased participation in activities and learning opportunities.

Kirsty Lewis

Kirsty works for Trans-Staffordshire tackling all in-equalities within the LGBTQ+ and wider community. Trans-Staffordshire is a grassroots organisation to bring the Trans community of Staffordshire and Stoke together providing several safe and confidential spaces which will provide opportunities for Trans people to meet socially, provide support and offer peer advice for trans people navigating the legal and medical obstacle course surrounding transition.

Kirsty is passionate about promoting the means of reporting Hate Crime, and has supported us in ensuring our members understand and have access to wider support following Hate Crime through discrimination in Football.

Adrian Waters

Adrian has delivered within a number of services to support, deliver and manage projects, including:

Youth and Community Services: Centre based, Open Access, Positive Activities, Detached, Targeted, Issue Based, Alternative Education, Residential, International Youth Work and Community Resilience.

Children’s and Families Services, Social Care, Safeguarding, Troubled Families.

Prison and “through the gate” work

Alternative education support + case work + coordination

Adrian’s current professional role is with Stoke on Trent City Council, in partnership with the Home Office, delivering against the Countering Extremism Strategy 2015.

Andrew Budworth

Andrew is the treasurer of Stoke On Trent Pride and actively promotes the LGBTQ+ community within Staffordshire.

Toyin Higgs

Toyin currently works full time in the sports industry and is a Non-Executive Director across a range of organisations.

Toyin is currently chairing the EDI subgroup for Staffordshire’s Active Partnership at a time of further development of infrastructure aimed at addressing under-representation in facets of sport. A key aspect of Toyin’s experience has been framed by strategic management in a local authority context, shaping Equality, Diversity and Inclusion strategies at board level and in large and small organisations, coaching c-suite leaders and upholding governance arrangements in organisations. Toyin has a proven ability in supporting organisations to seek out expertise and has an understanding of the barriers that have prevent individuals from under-represented backgrounds to engage and shape strategic decision making.
As an ILM qualified coach with over 20 years’ experience of working with communities and leading and managing services, Toyin feels well placed to support Staffs FA to promote inclusion and ensure that football remains a force for good.

Want to find out more?

HEre are some answers to your frequently asked questions

We are always looking for people to get involved with our inclusive projects. If you wish to become a member or get involved with our IAG you can contact our Football Development Officer (Inclusion) to find out more information.

The Staffordshire FA IAG is in place in order to advise and guide the Staffordshire FA on all inclusive programmes, initiatives, and ensuring an equal workforce.