By Lindsay England

For the past 15 months we at Just a Ball Game? (JBG?) have been overwhelmed with enquiries to our campaigns organisation. And, it is only now while checking back on our workload to submit this round up for LGBT people and LGBT friendly supporters of our work that we have noticed just how many 'WORLD FIRSTS' there have been in what we do.

Aside from attending and featuring as guests or panelists in many conferences and meetings, replying to numerous press and media interviews and enquiries, and of course partaking in UK Pride events, we have also been partners to the Bournemouth University (BU) research into Homophobia in Sport, and delivery partners to the 'TIME FOR CHANGE-NOW! Anti-Homophobia in Sport Exhibition, which we now also incorporate as part of what we showcase as our campaign work.

Our campaign work has existed for some 8 years now and has totally relied upon the good will of unpaid volunteers and small donations to enable where we are now with 2 ongoing campaigns "THINK BEFORE YOU CHANT!" and "TIME FOR CHANGE-NOW!" to be established.

Added too this a TEMPLATE GUIDE for fans and clubs was produced and is as we speak being fully endorsed by the TUC (Trade Union Congress) and the research project we partnered in with BU will be made public in april 2013.

We have also recently finally managed to acquire a small amount of grant funding from Awards For All to cover the cost of building a new more accessible website at www.justaballgame.co.uk (which will go live in a couple of weeks) and produce resources which will be available for anyone to buy.
If we rewind for a moment we go back to a world first of teaming up with the Communication Workers Union (CWU) when we enlisted Carling Cup Finalists 2013, Bradford City on board once again and arranged for one of their home games to be leafleted with pro-gay and anti-homophobia literature, while attending the match as guests of the club.
Continuing with our work with clubs we engaged with AFC Rushden and Diamonds and have completed the following with them:

  • Assisted in the production of their Football for All Policy document.
  • Launched the “Think Before You Chant!” campaign.
  • The club signed the Government ‘Sports Charter’ against Homophobia and transphobia.
  • We held 2 event days on match days as match ball sponsors, and ad boards are placed pitch side for JBG?
  • Finally we secured a deal where in the summer close season we will again deliver event days, and as a thank you the club have allowed us (another world first) to be KIT Sponsors for the AFC R&D Ladies tem for next season 2013/14.

At the same time we continued to work closely with Hyde FC and have completed the following with them:

  • Club have put messages on their website and on their ground rules and regs to outlaw any homophobia.
  • They advertise this with match day tannoy announcements.
  • The programme for a game has a permanent JBG? flyer advert, and there are often features of our work here and on the club official and fans websites.
  • The club became the first in the world to have our JBG? logo banner displayed pitch side,these have now been replaced with more permanent advertising boards for jBG?
  • We partnered the club with being match ball sponsors for 4 games.
  • Have held a number of event days one being on WORLD AIDS DAY 2012, and support the clubs holiday season kids football camps.
  • We have also recently helped the club deliver their recently required Security and Steward training by hosting talks on LGBT equality and diversity, and how to deal with any homophobia from fans on a match day.

Our exhibition delivery has seen us now cover 5 shows 1 in England and 1 in Scotland, the most prominent being a 3 day stint at the National Football Museum which is now based in Manchester,UK.

Our patrons listing over the past 12 months see us have figureheads our campaign work in the following, Iain Scott-owner of Taurus Bar, Maria Exall-CWU and TUC LGBT committee, Angela Eagle MP,Claire Harvey-GB Sitting Volleyball team captain, and US indie rock stars GOSSIP.

This impressive list has been added to just this week when we now are proud to announce that Manchester City Ladies FC goalkeeper Andie Worrall has agreed to become a patron. Added to this Andie as the first ‘OUT LESBIAN’ still playing the game in the UK and she will become our first elite player, LGBT FOOTBALL ROLE MODEL.

You can reach Lindsay at [email protected]