LGBTQ+ Professionals in Football Collective starts up – go to lgbtqfootball.com; players, coaches, match officials, and ED&I professionals among founding members; “considerable expertise and experience” already in group, which offers “safe space”
An industry network group for people who are LGBTQ+ within professional and semi-pro football is being launched this Pride Month.
Called LGBTQ+ Professionals in Football Collective, the group will foster connections and assist both members and prospective members as they navigate their careers in the game, whether they are players, coaches, match officials, or employed in other roles.
Planning on the project began over a year ago, with around 20 people contributing towards the framework of the group, which also welcomes active allies – those who are not LGBTQ+ themselves but who are contributing towards making football more inclusive and welcoming.
Among the founding members with on-the-pitch roles in football are Thetford Town player-manager Matt Morton; Leatherhead boss Luke Tuffs; Crystal Palace goalkeeper Chloe Morgan; Barclays WSL and FIFA referee Stacey Pearson; and National League, WSL and EFL match official Ryan Atkin.
“Connecting with other LGBTQ+ people in football has helped me understand and empathise with the challenges and lives of others. The LGBTQ+ community is like any other in the sense that we are all individuals and unique, and so are our stories.”– Matt Morton
Off-field, Hugo Scheckter, founder and MD of The Player Care Group, has also helped to shape the Collective, along with Chris Gibbons, director of Inside Inclusion; Football v Homophobia campaign director Lou Englefield; and The FA’s Diversity and Inclusion team, led by Funke Awoderu.
On the evening of Thursday 16 June, a launch event for the Collective was held in east London, featuring a panel discussion between four footballers – Morton, Morgan, Jahmal Howlett-Mundle and Parker Dunn – who are helping to provide representation for LGBTQ+ communities.
“Before coming out, I was very scared to be open about my sexuality and now that it has been almost a year, following many conversations with other LGBTQ+ people in football, it has helped my confidence in a range of environments.”– Jahmal Howlett-Mundle
“We’re offering a safe space to LGBTQ+ people and active allies – individuals who advocate for LGBTQ+ inclusion and help challenge homophobia, lesbophobia, biphobia and transphobia – across professional and semi-pro football in which they can access and provide mutual support,” says Chris Paouros, vice-chair of Kick It Out and a Collective founding member.
“There is already considerable expertise and experience within the group. As new members join, we’ll continue to develop a knowledge base and help people navigate this area of ED&I.
“For those of us who are able to be visible, we’ll grow that representation in the game and use our collective voice with the goal of making positive change and showing that football is in fact an industry of choice for LGBTQ+ people.”
“Connecting with other LGBTQ+ people has given me the confidence to help fight for change. It has opened doors to new experiences and enabled me to collaborate with some brilliant people who are doing amazing things to help combat discrimination in football.”– Stacey Pearson
Bios and Q&As from a selection of founder members are available on the Collective’s website at lgbtqfootball.com, where interested parties can sign up to receive more information via email.
For media enquiries and material about the LGBTQ+ Professionals in Football Collective, contact Jon Holmes at email@example.com.
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