STAFFORDSHIRE FA ARE AGAIN SUPPORTING THE STONEWALL RAINBOW LACES CAMPAIGN FOR 2019
This year Staffordshire FA has allocated two fixtures rounds within the County Cup schedule to be designated Stonewall Rainbow Laces fixtures.
The quarter final rounds of both the Sunday Premier Cup and Sunday Challenge Cup will be showcasing Rainbow Laces as this season we aim to support the LGBTQ+ community within the Adult Male game.
In addition to this support, Staffordshire FA were able to promote a Rainbow Laces giveaway to five clubs of whom will also be supporting the campaign, along with a number of Staffordshire based leagues and clubs who have purchased an allocation and will be promoting their involvement over the next couple of weeks.
In support of the campaign, we have spoken to Black Country Fusion FC and several of their players, who pride themselves in being an LGBTQ+ inclusive club.
Black Country Fusion was formed in 2016 as the first LGBTQ+ inclusive club to enter a non-gay league in the West Midlands and only the third in the country to choose this route of offering LGBTQ+ inclusive football.
Fusion set out to have a strong ethos of equality in football and this would play a major part in all of Fusion’s work on and off the pitch and to challenge what can be deemed as toxic masculinity in the dressing room. It was vital for Fusion to create an inclusive environment in everything they did. Fusion’s slogan of ‘football with no barriers’ was vital when growing the club.
Black Country Fusion FC started with just an open age male team and this remained for the first two seasons. The following two seasons Fusion have added at least one team a season to the club. Fusion now has both male and female open age teams and both male and female veterans teams.
At the end of the 2018/2019 season Fusion were awarded with the Staffordshire FA Grassroots Project of the Year Award for their commitment and work towards promoting inclusivity in football, especially for the LGBTQ+ community.
On receiving this award, Chairwoman Skye Stewart commented: “We have always been supported by Staffordshire FA, but for them to honour us with this award showed us that Staffordshire FA are passionate about promoting inclusive football for all, including the LGBTQ+ community.”
The club has since gone on to win the Just a Ball Game Anti LGBTQ Bullying Award and Skye has been recognised as one of the top 50 people that are making things happen in the community by Lucozade Sport.
"Although lesbians are very much accepted in general, in the female game this has not always been the case and to play for a club that creates such an inclusive environment I think it's absolutely amazing and fills me with pride every time I wear my Fusion shirt."
"As a heterosexual male I feel privileged to be able to play football without discrimination. I chose to play for Fusion because I feel that every footballer should be able to play football without discrimination and I wear my Rainbow Laces with pride and I stand in solidarity with the LGBTQ+ football community.”
"What Fusion offers as a club I believe you can't get at any other club. We have been given the opportunity to promote equality in some of the biggest arenas and the support from media and companies who want to invest in our ethos is amazing.”
"Rainbow Laces is 52 weeks a year for us. It’s just second nature to us; we very rarely discuss sexuality or gender identity because there is never any need. We all know that when we wear the Fusion shirt we are representing not only the club but we are giving the LGBTQ+ community a voice in football.”
"If someone felt like they had to come out at Fusion it would be quite offensive. We all drink together and partners are welcome; if a player turned up with someone of the same sex we wouldn't bat an eyelid.”
Fusion will continue to promote equality in football and as the club grows year by year we are given a bigger opportunity to spread our club ethos. Our next step is youth football, where we can give children who may be questioning their sexuality or gender identity a safe space to play football and develop into the stars of the future.
Wednesday 27 November is Wear Your Rainbow Laces Day which will see Staffordshire FA staff supporting the campaign out and about within the community.
Read more about Rainbow Laces and download your activation pack at www.staffordshirefa.com/leagues-and-clubs/rainbow-laces