A group which is aiming to promote diversity and inclusion in sport hosted a panel discussion which explored the challenges faced by grassroots clubs and participants.

Sport Campaign Against Racism (SCAR) hosted the event at the Manningham Mills Sport & Community Association. It featured discussions which heard from both professional and grassroots perspectives in football, cycling and cricket. 

Panellists shared their personal experiences and the challenges they overcame, emphasising the importance of a collective approach to combating discrimination.

The event also included a special recognition of SCAR's founders, Karl Oxford, Shadow Parvais, and Delroy Dacres, for their nearly 20 years of contributions to promoting diversity and inclusion through SCAR. 

Despite Delroy Dacres being unable to attend due to illness, his work was acknowledged.

Panalists included, Fozia Naeem (Give Bradford & founder of Hop On Bike), Fatima Khan-Shah (West Yorkshire Mayor’s Inclusivity Champion), Ravi Dharni (Secretary at Albion Sports), Troy Townsend MBE (Kick It Out), Zohaib Rashid (Journalist & founder of Desiballers), Yunus Lunat (Lawyer & former FA Council Member), Taj Butt (Qaid-e-Azam Cricket League), Ahmed Turabi (Academic), Anwar Uddin MBE (FA), and Ashraf Wallace (WRCFA).

Dr. Ikram Butt, Executive Director of SCAR, said: “We were pleased with the turnout and the meaningful conversations that took place. 

"I want to extend our gratitude to all attendees, including councillors from Bradford and Kirklees: Cllr David Ward, a former MP, Cllr Amran, Cllr Hussain, and Cllr Masood (both from Kirklees). Your presence and participation underscore the importance of collective action and community involvement in combating discrimination and fostering inclusivity.”

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Troy Townsend MBE, spoke on the role of football in tackling racism, stated.

He said: "An inspiring evening of honest conversation, it was a pleasure to be invited and be in the room.

"The work of SCAR is massively important for the community they serve and tonight and the report proves that. Football needs to learn and listen to its community and understand the complexities that still exists to enable the game to make positive change.’’

Fatima Khan-Shah is the West Yorkshire Mayor’s Inclusivity Champion, 

She added, “The discussions tonight have shown that while we have made some progress, there is still much work to be done. Inclusivity must be at the heart of everything we do, and events like this, championed by SCAR and Dr Ikram Butt are crucial in driving that change.”

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Fozia Naeem,  said: “Cycling can be a powerful tool for bringing communities together, but we need to ensure that it’s accessible and welcoming to everyone.

"Sharing our experiences helps to highlight the barriers that exist and how we can overcome them together.”

The audience comprised individuals from grassroots clubs throughout West Yorkshire, Bradford Local Authority, Yorkshire Sport, and the Bradford City FC Community Foundation, among others, who provided feedback on SCAR’s strategic direction.

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A key highlight of the evening was the report “The Changing Rooms to Make Change,” commissioned by the West Riding County FA (WRCFA).

The report provided an in-depth analysis of the experiences of 10 grassroots football clubs in Bradford, revealing a troubling picture of racism and discrimination.

The report found

Widespread Racism:
Many clubs reported frequent and severe instances of racial abuse and discrimination, both on and off the field.

Lack of Support from Authorities:
There is a prevailing sentiment among clubs that the support from football authorities, including the WRCFA, is inadequate. Clubs feel that their complaints are often ignored or mishandled.

Unfair Treatment:
Clubs from minority communities feel they face harsher sanctions and less support compared to their counterparts.

Need for Systemic Change:
The report underscores the need for comprehensive reforms within the WRCFA to address these issues effectively and restore trust among grassroots clubs.

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