THE BAME Football Forum (BFF) have launched their inaugural Non-League Diversity Football Festival for non-league clubs playing in the football pyramid system, that are leading the way for Black, Asian and other minority ethnic groups in terms of playing, managing, coaching, volunteering and operationally running clubs.
The event is being held on Saturday, July 3 from 12 noon onwards at Punjab United’s Steve Cook Stadium in Gravesend, Kent and is part of the BFF’s long term strategy A Quest for Change to be empowering, representative, diverse and inclusive.
The BFF have said that following the inaugural event there are plans to grow the concept year on year with other clubs across the non-league pyramid as well as partners being invited. The event is being supported by The Football Association (FA), Kick it Out’s – Fans for Diversity project and Kent FA.
BFF Chair, Ivan Liburd said: “The support and interest in the event has been massive, not only from within the clubs, but from those who govern football. It’s important to create moments like this in football where we can celebrate the obvious talent within BAME football communities. It’s a positive step in continuing to build unity amongst grassroots clubs nationally and to continue to shine a light on diversity and inclusion.”
The first four partner clubs taking part are Leicester Nirvana, Sporting Bengal, Punjab United and Sporting Khalsa. These clubs are well established non-league semi-professional sides that play at Step 5 and above, with Sporting Khalsa recently being promoted to Step 4. The four clubs will play a mini tournament on the day with fans and sponsors (COVID restrictions allowing) present to make the day as atmospheric as possible.
The purpose of the event is to ensure that those outside of the professional game are aware that other opportunities exist and that work is being done at a grass roots level that supports and complements the work of national partners.
Councillor Kirk Master, BFF Ambassador said: “It has been a few years coming but we’ve finally got to deliver the BAME Football Forum inaugural event. This event is crucial to continue to demonstrate that BAME communities play a huge role in football, from grassroots right thorough to the professional game. This is only the beginning of this Diversity event, it’s destined to become a big part of the grassroots calendar.”