Millwall Football Club have partnered with LGBT+ charity Stonewall to kick off the Christmas football period in line with their inclusivity initiatives.
Stonewall’s Rainbow Laces campaign lobbies for LGBT+ inclusion and equality in sport. This year’s theme is ‘Lace up to Keep it up’ as they celebrate 10 years since the first campaign.
The football club operate as a part of Millwall Community Trust which was established in 1985 and runs programmes aimed at people of all ages irrespective of age, race, gender or sexual orientation. The programmes are geared towards tackling issues such as social exclusion, racism, and mental health.
The Trust provides sporting and education opportunities to communities across East London, including Lewisham.
In the 1960s Millwall Football Club developed a reputation of violence and organised football hooliganism which they have worked hard to change, with the Trust playing a large part in that.
Millwall Community Trust CEO, Sean Daly said: “Rainbow Laces has become such an iconic symbol of inclusion in football and one which we are proud to continue to support and we ensure that we incorporate equality, diversity and inclusion into all that we do.
The club are getting involved by wearing rainbow laces, badges or kit with the rainbow on it and setting up a donation campaign that is linked to the Stonewall Rainbow Laces large fundraiser.
The initiative originally started to prevent discrimination against LGBT+ people in sports, it now also serves to raise funds for Stonewall and openly show support for marginalised communities in sport which is something the Trust works hard to do.
“We believe that no one should feel excluded from participating in or enjoying the game we all love or indeed any sport, which is why allyship is so important for providing a positive platform for the change that is still needed to ensure inclusivity for all.”
Inclusivity has been the main focus of the introduction of Millwall Community Trust and started other successful initiatives and partnerships with the football club. This includes free mental health football sessions in partnership with MIND and the Pan Disability programme which helps those with a disability get into sports particularly football.