L&Q's One Goal, the UK's largest free holiday programme, joined up with Stonewall to host an event in support of the Rainbow Laces anti-homophobia in sport campaign.
The event, run in partnership with Charlton Athletic Community Trust (CACT), was held at Charlton Athletic’s training ground on Thursday 26 October as part of an effort to make sport everyone’s game.
Young people from the One Goal programme and representatives from all nine participating football clubs received Rainbow Laces and heard about the significance of the campaign.
One Goal is funded by housing association L&Q and delivered by nine professional clubs: Charlton Athletic, Chelsea, Crystal Palace, Fulham, Leyton Orient, Millwall, Queens Park Rangers, Tottenham Hotspur and West Ham United.
The programme is one of the largest of its kind, attracting a record 16,753 young people last year. It provides free sports and creative arts activities for children aged 5-21 throughout the school holidays, as well as apprenticeships, work placements, volunteering opportunities and a chance to complete an FA Level 1 football coaching qualification.
Speaking at the event, Stonewall Chief Executive Ruth Hunt said:
“It’s good to see so many clubs come together, to see all the young people proud to wear their Rainbow Laces and to see this great initiative in conjunction with CACT and L&Q making connections in a way which is really meaningful.
“We want to see lots of different people engaged in sport, having a good time and doing their best. But we know that if you’re gay, you’re less likely to play and more scared about chanting from the terraces and getting bullied.
“This is about saying there’s no more room for bullying and hatred. This initiative is exactly what Stonewall wants.”
Speaking at the event L&Q Chief Executive David Montague said:
“We are a charity driven by our values and our vision. Diversity is important to us. We’ve been on Stonewall’s Top 100 Employers List for three years running and been doing the One Goal programme since 2014.
“Rainbow Laces seemed like a natural marriage of our values and an opportunity to engage and tackle issues of discrimination and homophobia.”
The event was also attended by Paul Elliot CBE, a CACT Trustee and former Charlton Athletic and Chelsea defender who chairs the FA’s Inclusion Advisory Board, and Andy Sinton, QPR’s Club Ambassador and a former England international.
Representatives from the Professional Footballers’ Association, the University of Greenwich and CACT Invicta FC, the first LGBTQI+ friendly team affiliated to a professional football club’s community trust, were also present.