Staff representing Middlesex FA and the Brentford Football Club Community Trust laced up their boots this week, to show support and raise awareness of LGBT+ equality in football.
In a Rainbow Laces football match taking place at Middlesex FA’s Rectory Park headquarters on Monday 26 November, the two organisations were joined by LGBeeT Bees and the Middlesex FA Youth Council, with representatives of each taking to the pitch.
Organised in honour of Rainbow Laces, an initiative introduced by LGBT+ charity Stonewall, the campaign encourages fans and athletes to be active allies and play their part in ensuring LGBT+ people feel included in sport. Now in its fifth consecutive year, Rainbow Laces has been credited with tackling homophobia both on and off the football pitch.
Both teams were joined by former Brentford player and head coach of Brentford B, Kevin O’Connor, who laced up his boots himself to take part in the match, pledging his full support for the campaign. Kevin, who made over 500 appearances for the Bees, emphasised the importance of Brentford supporting the campaign, with five members of O’Connor’s team attending the match, ahead of wearing rainbow laces themselves in their London Senior Cup tie against Met Police on Wednesday 28 November.
As part of the staff match at Rectory Park, the Middlesex FA Youth Council provided a social media takeover, delivering goal highlights and interviews across the evening. Middlesex FA also utilised the match with Brentford to pledge its commitment to LGBT+ initiatives across West London.
On Friday 30 November, as part of the Stonewall Rainbow Laces campaign, a landmark fixture between Stonewall FC and Wilberforce Wanderers in Middlesex County Football League Division One will be played at Wembley Stadium. It will be the first time a regular season non-league fixture has been hosted at the national stadium – and has been scheduled to celebrate The FA becoming a Stonewall Diversity Champion and the subsequent partnership between the two organisations.
Lynsey Edwards, Head of Participation & Development at Middlesex FA, said: “Along with ensuring that all Middlesex FA-affiliated and associated football is inclusive for the LGBT+ community, we pledge to run an annual Football v Homophobia month of action to tackle homophobia in football and provide a safe environment for players who are LGBT+. This month of action will also connect with LGBT+ History Month, which is traditionally held in February across the UK.