‘Shine that spotlight!’ – why you need to nominate for the Football v Homophobia Awards

“The more beacons we put out there, the better,” says 2022 FvH Cymru award winner Delwyn ‘Sheep’ Derrick; FC Bellevue founder encourages everyone doing LGBTQ+ inclusion work in the game to put themselves and others forward before 20 January deadline; listen to the new FvH Podcast to learn more about the FvH Awards…

By Jon Holmes

BBC Sport’s Jo Currie was the host for the 2022 Football v Homophobia Awards ceremony

Time is running out for nominations to be submitted for the fourth annual Football v Homophobia Awards, at which LGBTQ+ people and allies in the game will be recognised for their inclusion work.

Once again, the FvH Awards will put the focus on our communities and those who are making the game more welcoming for everyone, culminating in a gala night of celebration to be held this year at the National Football Museum in Manchester.

However, the window to submit those much-needed suggestions for the awards shortlists will soon close…

Nominations need to be in by Friday 20 January, 2023.

The criteria for the 11 categories is available to view on the Football v Homophobia website.

Those categories are:

  • Professional Club, sponsored by EFL 
  • Non-League Club
  • Grassroots Club
  • Supporters Group
  • English County Football Association, sponsored by The FA list here
  • Women’s Game
  • Football v Homophobia Hero
  • Football Media
  • FvH Cymru
  • Football v Homophobia Scotland
  • International Award, sponsored by Fare

Need some inspiration? Read our 2022 Review of the Year in which football features heavily!

Last year, Leicester City FC and Foxes Pride secured a double by landing the gongs for Pro Club and Supporters Group respectively, while other winners included Dulwich Hamlet FC (Non-League), Manchester Laces FC (Grassroots), Sussex County FA, and Stonewall FC’s Women and Non-Binary Team.

Claiming the FvH Cymru Award was FC Bellevue, the Wrexham-based community outfit that has put full inclusion at the heart of its mission statement ever since it started up in 2016.

Club founder Delwyn ‘Sheep’ Derrick joined the FvH Podcast to discuss his pride at Bellevue’s success and the importance of people making nominations, even if those people are modest or would usually leave it to someone else to submit an entry.

“I encourage any club or association out there that’s doing any sort of ally work for LGBTQ+ rights in football – you should definitely put yourselves forward,” says ‘Sheep’.

“Shine that light, because as soon as you do, you become the welcoming place for people to go to, a place where they can be who they are.”

At Bellevue, ‘Sheep’ has served as secretary, coach and all-round volunteer, with his hard work recognised with the BBC Wales Sports Personality of the Year Award in 2019 and a St David’s Award for Culture and Sport in 2021.

His commitment to supporting Football v Homophobia even resulted in him getting the campaign logo tattooed on his leg a year ago!

“It was the Month of Action and I thought, how do I get those who don’t follow us as a club to pay attention?” he explains.

“There are 28 days in February, and the Stonewall Riots were on the 28th day of what is now Pride Month. So I decided to say that if 28 people that weren’t on my regular followers list retweeted an educational piece about why February is the FvH Month of Action, I would get the FvH logo tattooed on my leg.

“It took about 10 minutes to get up to 28 retweets! I thought I’d have a couple of days to weigh up whether it was a smart choice or not!

“It got picked up on by the local papers, and by the BBC – so I knew I’d made the right choice. I kept justifying it as me actually taking an action!”

Also appearing on this FvH Podcast episode is Jake Williamson, who was inspired in December 2021 to share his story of being a gay footballer who has faced challenges in the game related to his sexuality.

Now a personal trainer, he feels the Awards are “massively important” as a way to celebrate the progress being made and to create more LGBTQ+ role models.

When asked to reflect on 2022 and select a breakthrough moment, he’s going north of the border.

“Every nominee is a winner,” he says, “but I’ve personally had a lot of conversations with referee Lloyd Wilson and striker Zander Murray, two Scottish boys who are doing us proud.

“They’re both doing great work, they’re talking about the issues and are doing education work, such as Zander’s with TIE. I think they’re leading the way.”

For 2023, a new FvH Scotland Award has been introduced, and nominees are also being sought in categories for the Women’s Game, Football Media, the International Award and the coveted ‘FvH Hero’.

Making up the podcast panel discussing the Awards on this latest episode is Jim Dolan, the founder of West Ham’s LGBTQ+ and allies fans group Pride of Irons. In 2022, Jim was shortlisted for a National Diversity Award in the Positive Role Model for LGBT+ category and he says that for anybody volunteering their time and energy in this way, a nod of acknowledgement can make the world of difference.

“You don’t do it for plaudits, you just hope that you’re doing the right thing,” he says.

“There’s anecdotal stuff where people come to us and say, ‘I literally wouldn’t have a season ticket now if this group didn’t exist, it’s made me feel like I’ve come back to football’. That makes you feel really good. It makes you reassess the value of what you’ve done.

“When someone takes the time to write stuff down that’s touching, it really does mean a lot. It renews your faith in what you’re doing and gives you the motivation to do more.”

‘Sheep’ is hoping that nobody who is deserving gets overlooked for the 2023 Awards, particularly with such a big night in store at the NFM on Friday 24 February.

He’s urging everyone to rack their brains and take the time to nominate – even if they want to blow their own trumpet a bit.

“The more beacons we put out there, the better,” he adds. “Football needs to be a more welcoming sport.

“Get yourselves nominated, and you might even get yourself a nifty trophy for your efforts.”

Listen to the Football v Homophobia Podcast on Apple, Spotify and Google.

Show your support for the FvH Month of Action in February! Nominate in the fourth annual FvH Awards – the window is open until Friday 20 January.

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