Glory for fathers in White Ribbon football

pic: Hannah Osborne

Lewisham Council met its match on Wednesday, November 23, when its five-a-side team took on the Lewisham Young Fathers Project.

The beautiful game was held at Downham Health and Leisure Centre in Grove Vale to raise awareness of the White Ribbon Campaign, which aims to get men to take more responsibility in reducing violence against women.

This was one of three events organised by the council for White Ribbon Week in the run-up to the UN’s International Day of the Elimination of Violence Against Women on November 25.

At the match, staff from Lewisham Council’s Safety Service took on members of the Young Fathers Project, a group created to help young fathers across the borough. Both teams were vying for glory and a trophy to vindicate their victory.

Jennie Francis-Levers, counselling manager at the Lewisham-based Women Against Domestic Violence, turned up to show her support.

She told EastLondonLines: “I think it’s absolutely fabulous that men are taking a stand against domestic violence, given that the majority of perpetrators are male and the majority of survivors are female. It’s professionals as well, so they can talk to their fellow colleagues and people they know personally about taking a stand against it. It’s really good.”

After an extensive warm-up, bibs were put on and referee Ronald Albert gathered the teams to go through the rules, joking that there was to be “no slide tackling”.

Lewisham Council pic: Hannah Osborne

Elliot Wright-Clare, a member of the Young Fathers Project, scored two of the goals in the second half and was modest about his performance, saying he “could have done better”.

Speaking about the White Ribbon Campaign, he said: “It’s definitely something we need to be aware of and promote in the wider community. [Violence against women] is not something that’s acceptable.”

Owen Thomas, service development manager at Working With Men, which runs the Lewisham Young Fathers Project, said: “Anti-violence against women is a big cause for us. People sometimes wrongly assume about young fathers that they’re dead-beat dads. Today shows that they’re willing to come out and support causes for their partners and women in general. A lot of them are fathers of daughters and they don’t want violence against women, so that’s why we’re here.”

“And we wanted to play football,” Wright-Clare added.

On Friday, White Ribbon Week will culminate in a parade from Lewisham Shopping Centre to the Town Hall in Catford, after which the match trophy will be presented.

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