With the football World Cup fast approaching, pupils from a Wiltshire school have been talking about the darker side of the sport thanks to a special workshop provided by the Swindon Town Community Foundation.
The one hour session, which was attended by all Year 9 pupils at Lydiard Park Academy in Swindon, focussed on the harm caused and repercussions of using violence and derogatory language at football matches.
Teenagers were asked about what they thought was meant by disorder and derogatory language and they talked about high profile cases involving ex-England international Ashley Cole, Tottenham defender Eric Dier as well as the recent pitch invasion at Vale Park following last season’s play-off semi final between Swindon Town and Port Vale where three people were arrested and seven others were banned from going to football matches for four months.
The workshop, which is funded by the Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner, is designed to highlight the issues surrounding disorder before, during and after football matches in order to educate young people about why they shouldn’t get involved.
Andy Tye is the Senior Development Manager at the Swindon Town FC Community Foundation:
“The majority of the young people we speak to wouldn’t even think about getting involved in any sort of disorder at a football match or use language that’s racist, homophobic or derogatory in any way.
“That doesn’t mean we shouldn’t be educating them about these issues because the themes reach out further than on the terraces. Also, if we can convince the very small minority of young people who are at risk of getting caught up in the hooligan that there are good reasons why shouldn’t get involved, then it makes it a worthwhile exercise.
“Sadly, there’s been in a rise in football related disorder since lockdown but there are many different schemes and initiatives at clubs across the country looking to try and nip it in the bud.
“Hopefully, engaging with young people to talk about the effects it can have on them now and in later life when they’re trying to get a job, go abroad or get car insurance with a football related criminal record to their name, can show them how restrictive and expensive it can be”
The Foundation also runs PL Kicks, a scheme which is jointly funded by the Premier League and the Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner, which offers free football sessions on a Friday night as well as community workshops on a Tuesday.