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Politicians and Sports Stars Unite Against Racism
Tuesday 11th October, 2005

Local politicians and sports stars are joining forces this weekend in a united stance against racism. Wigan Borough’s Kick Racism out of Football campaign, co-ordinated by Wigan Leisure and Culture Trust, begins this week with a string of football festivals, art workshops and educational events taking place.

The national anti-racism week of action, organised by football’s anti-racism campaign ‘Kick It Out’, will take place between the 13th and 25th October. For twelve days in October the biggest names in football will come together with fans, their clubs, ethnic minority communities and more than a million amateur footballers to send out a united message against racism and in celebration of diversity in the game.

In Wigan and Leigh the campaign is building on last year’s success to highlight the positive message being cascaded nationally. On Sunday 16th October, Westleigh High School, will host the first of two community football festivals. Amongst the ranks will be a Councillor Chris Ready’s team comprising of local politicians (including MPs Andy Burnham and Neil Turner) and Wigan Athletic’s media man Matt McCann.

The whole event will be ‘kicked off’ by Council Leader Lord Peter Smith with a similar event taking place in Wigan on 23rd October at Abraham Guest High School, Orrell.

“Football is unique in that it crosses the boundaries of society and plays a crucial role in breaking down barriers and creating goodwill. The Kick It Out campaign gives us all the opportunity to stand up and be counted and to show that as a community we will not tolerate racism,” says Andy Burnham MP. “I have been heavily involved with the national campaign since 1998 and it is very pleasing for me to see that the campaign in Leigh and Wigan is so active and is supported so strongly by the Trust and our local sporting teams.”

The 2005 boroughwide campaign has also received strong backing from all four major sports clubs (Wigan Athletic, Leigh RMI, Leigh Centurions and Wigan Warriors), who have provided complimentary match tickets, educational support and strong vocal backing for the campaign.

The ambassador for the 2005 campaign is Wigan Athletic’s Jason Roberts, “Racism is outdated and backward and there is no place for it in the modern world. I am glad I have been given the opportunity to speak to young people and to educate them about the need for people to be judged by their actions, not by the colour of their skin.”

The 2005 activities also include:

  • Turnpike Centre, Leigh – National History of Black Footballers Exhibition (10th to 22nd Oct), including a drop in arts workshop on Saturday 22nd between 10.30 and 12.30. Aimed at 8 to 14 year olds, the workshop will produce a football related sculpture in a fun and creative way.
  • Anti-Racist Education – Schools across the borough have been provided with curriculum resource packs to educate children on the importance of racial tolerance and cultural understanding.
  • School Tournaments – From November 2nd to 16th, children from years 6 to 9 will take part in fun football tournaments at the JJB Soccerdome.

“Less than twelve months ago England’s finest black players were racially abused at the Bernabeu in Madrid in front of millions watching on television. The response from the nation was a unified call for action,” says Lord Herman Ouseley, Chairman of Kick It Out. “Given that these scenes were once common place in England we felt that this response was one to be proud of and signalled how initiatives such as the Week of Action are essential in continually underlining our opposition to racism and inequality.”

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