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Lunar New Year celebrations at Vicarage Road © Watford FC

Fans for Diversity: Early-2024 round-up

The Fans for Diversity campaign, a partnership between the FSA and Kick It Out, continues to assist supporters around the country as we look to break down barriers to attending live football. And as usual the campaign has had a busy start to 2024…

Fans for Diversity team expands in its tenth year

Back in January, the FSA welcomed Coventry City fan Hannah Kumari onto the Fans for Diversity campaign as our latest member of staff.

Hannah, who you may remember created the one-woman stage play ENG-ER-LAND which focused on her experiences of going to football matches as a mixed-race teenager in the 90s, joins as campaign manager alongside Nilesh Chauhan.

Originally from Warwickshire and now based in London, Hannah enjoyed a varied 10 year career as an actor, writer and producer before joining the FSA this year.

“I’m beyond thrilled to have joined the FSA as For Diversity campaign manager, working alongside Nilesh,” she said.

“It’s a dream come true. Like everyone at the FSA I’m committed to making the game I love accessible to all.”

Nilesh, a former FSA National Council member and co-founder of Aston Villa’s south asian fan group Villans Together, was a longtime supporter of the Fans for Diversity campaign before joining as a full-time staff member last year.

Nilesh says: “2024 will be the tenth anniversary of the Fans for Diversity campaign – it’s an incredible milestone to reach.

“It’s already shaping up to be another busy year for the campaign, our calendar is packed and we look forward to supporters across the country getting involved.”

Lunar New Year celebrations at Vicarage Road

Earlier this month, Watford helped the British East & South East Asian Hornets supporters group (ESEA Hornets) host a Lunar New Year event at Vicarage Road.

Lunar New Year is one of the biggest events on South East Asian calendars and ESEA Hornets used the celebration to promote their group and the growing presence of South East Asian fans in English football.

The Vicarage Road event, with traditional decorations adorning the Hornets’ conference hall overlooking the Watford pitch, attracted a large crowd from across the Watford-supporting community. Throughout the evening there were traditional lion dances and martial arts displays, as well as music and activities for attendees.

“All this would also not have happened without the support of the Fans For Diversity campaign,” said Alan Lau, chair of ESEA Hornets.

“The ESEA communities in Watford are so grateful to Watford FC for inviting us into the club to celebrate Lunar New Year. It is a testament to the ‘original family club’ that they have always included us in their family.”

Founded in 2021, the ESEA Hornets have continued to represent South East Asian fans at their club and that work was recognised last year when they were shortlisted for the Fans for Diversity award at the 2023 FSA Awards.

Blue Crescent rising

A first official fan group for Muslim supporters of Manchester City has been created with the help of Nilesh and the Fans for Diversity campaign.

The launch event for the newly-formed Blue Crescent Official Supporters’ Club (BCOSC) was held at City’s Etihad Stadium and attended by Lord Mayor of Manchester Yasmine Dar.

The BCOSC says it aims to “change the perception that football fans come from a certain background” and provide access to “people who may have thought that football wasn’t for them”.

Funding partners

  • The Football Association
  • Premier Leage Fans Fund

Partners

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