Swindon event makes history in advancing inclusion and diversity in football

By Jessica Durston - 31 May 2022

Clubs & ActivitiesSportCommunity

Swindon Town's Foundation Park was the setting for a football event that is part of an initiative to bring different communities together.

The Swindon event celebrated Vesak Day

On Monday 23 May, the ‘One Community, One Football’ England FA, led in conjunction with the support of Swindon Town FC, and the support of the Football Supporters Association (FSA), and Wiltshire County FA, took place at the Swindon Town Foundation Park.

The One Community, One Football initiative is a multiple-organisation alliance designed to both boost ethnic minority communities' participation in grassroots and professional football, and at the same time project that there is no place for racism or any other form of prejudice in football.

This May at Swindon Town Foundation Park, the event was celebrating Buddhism through Vesak 2022, which marks the occasion of the birth of the faith's Lord Buddha.

The event ran from 6pm - 9pm and there was a full schedule for attendees to enjoy. 

The schedule included: 

  • A live Q&A about Faithand Football
  • A workshop on how to get into Coaching and Refereeing.
  • Buddhist prayers
  • Nepalese dance performances
  • Free Nepalese food

Working in partnership with The Football Supporters Association, Kick It Out, Aldershot Town FC, UK Nepal Friendship Society and the OCHD (One Community Hampshire & Dorset) the events use the power of football and its position in different communities to deliver positive change and to bring people together.

There are said to be many challenges in the UK about diversity and inclusion and One game One Community events aim to highlight how together, people can influence a positive future where stadiums around the country reflect the cities and towns in which they sit.

The initiative – that was launched at Aldershot on 10 October 2021 - has direct local Nepali community support (with strong participation by residents of the broader Swindon area) in conjunction with the Nepalese Association of Wiltshire (NAW) and the UK Friendship Society.

The England FA led and NAW supported Swindon event -under coordination of Mr Gyan Prasad Gurung, NAW Lead and a UKNFS/HANACS director - was the last current phase of the England FA Faiths & Football initiative, which supports enhanced sharing of cultures.

The UKNFS/HANACS with the NAW, and OCHD say they wish to express their strongest appreciation to England FA’s Mr Arran Williams, Mr Anwar Uddin of the FSA, and to local Cllr Bazil Solomon, for their strong proactive work that made the local event possible.

The NAW also wish to extend their thanks to all local area dignitaries (including the Lord Lieutenant) and the event’s discussion panel experts and authorities, for their support for this nationally important initiative.

The next One Community, One Football initiative event is planned to take place later this year in Southampton. 

Unable to attend due to ill health, was UKNFS/HANACS lead Alan Mercel-Sanca, who was said to have played the central role in successfully negotiating with England FA, a long sought Nepal National Team.

He sent his best wishes for the event, noting that the One Community, One Football initiative will tangibly contribute to the UK Nepali footballing community – such as exemplified by the nationally important Tamu Dhee Association UK and Sahara UK Association enabled annual Gurkha Cup – to see people from all communities more likely to join them in their passion for ‘the beautiful game.’

Those wishing to find out more about One Community One Football or to get involved, can contact:

Arran Williams, Diveristy & Inclusion Manager, The FA - Arran.Williams@thefa.com

Anwar Uddin, Campaigns Manager: Fans for Diversity, The FSA - Anwar.Uddin@thefsa.org.uk

Oliver Selfe, Chief Executive Officer, Wiltshire FA - Oliver.Selfe@wiltshirefa.com

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