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Bangla Bantams drive creates football facilities for all fans

Supporters’ group the Bangla Bantams are developing new facilities in the shadow of Valley Parade which will benefit all supporters – from kids in the community and grassroots football to fans who’ve travelled across the country following their team.

As well as hosting a floodlit 4G pitch the new sports centre will be also open to the public on matchday – meaning home and away fans can get together before games to talk football… or even line up for a friendly kickabout. There are plans to arrange five-a-side games between Bangla Bantams and visiting fans on matchdays.

The work is scheduled to finish in June 2022 with an official opening in September 2022.

The project is funded by Football Foundation, Power to Change, Sport England and Bradford Council and has been led by the BEAP Community Partnership – whose chief executive is Humayun Islam.

Humayun kickstarted the Bangla Bantams in 2015 and his vision is for a project which harnesses people’s love of football and encourages the local, largely Bangladeshi community, to get behind their local club and engage with football fans from across the country.

We first met Humayun in 2014 when our Fans for Diversity lead Anwar Uddin headed to Bradford for a visit. The FFD campaign was in its infancy then and we were looking for local projects to work with – and Humayun’s appetite for a closer relationship with the club immediately stood out when Anwar first visited the BEAP Community Centre in 2014. A brainstorming meeting led to the creation of the Bangla Bantams.

“A concrete pitch, potholes, no goals or nets back then,” says Anwar. The new £1.1m complex will feature two 4G pitches, new changing rooms, a cafe and modernised sports hall with new flooring, heating, lighting – and high hopes that football can bring people together

“It struck me how many kids on Saturday mornings were playing football in the streets around the stadium but as soon as fans came they disappeared indoors,” says Anwar. “They’d heard negative stories around racism from parents and didn’t feel they could share that space with football fans. They could see the stadium outside their bedroom window but it was like a spaceship that they didn’t want to go in.”

Humayun agrees: “The harsh reality of matches in the 60s and 70s was that between 1-5pm even local kids who liked football disappeared indoors if they didn’t want verbal abuse and milk bottles thrown at them. Parents pass on those stories. Then in 1985 you had the Bradford City fire and the community opened its doors to all fans on that day with water, food and blankets.”

Bangla Bantams want to build on that positivity, thankfully in this instance not set against such a terrible backdrop, and get local kids excited about the team that is on their doorstep. There had previously been limited dialogue between the club and the local community – tickets were handed out but it’s difficult for any one person to know what to do with a batch of tickets when they didn’t know even the most basic things about matchdays.

Bangla Bantam members stepped into the gap and, within a few years, Humayun was organising community days and tournaments at the club with as many as 500-600 people turning up. They also took kids to games with more experienced fans in different parts of the ground so that, game by game, new fans start to feel comfortable on matchdays and experience the game from different stands.

“They engaged with existing supporters’ groups really well and built trust with the disabled supporters group, the trust among others. Humayun did that really well and it meant the events they organised were really well attended,” says Anwar. “He was so sincere about creating positive change and showed amazing persistence – ‘Let’s just do it anyway!’”

Humayun says the FSA and Kick It Out support at the beginning was critical and helped open doors and the legacy of that is, hopefully, a diversified supporter-base for the club with local boys and girls backing Bradford City – and maybe even turning out for the Bantams one day.

“A young fan’s ‘first club’ might be Manchester United or Liverpool with Bradford as a second team but a local south Asian lad playing at the club would make a huge difference. There’s talent on the club’s doorstep and we hope the new facilities can play a part in raising that level enough so that one of those young players can make it and play for the club one day.”

Funding partners

  • The Football Association
  • Premier Leage Fans Fund


  • Gamble Aware
  • Co-operatives UK
  • FSE
  • Kick It Out
  • Level Playing Field
  • Living Wage Foundation
  • Pledgeball