Lincolnshire FA is proud to announce that Zack has joined as Lincolnshire Football Association’s new LGBTQ+ Ambassador.
The LGBTQ+ Ambassador is a new voluntary role introduced to the association to support in the pursuit for a football environment that is inclusive, welcoming, and free from all discrimination. The role of the LGBTQ+ Ambassador is to act as a representative for the LGBTQ+ Community for football in Lincolnshire, advocating for LGBTQ+ inclusion and supporting the implementation of the LGBTQ+ Inclusive Accredited Club Programme. The LGBTQ+ Ambassador will also sit on the Lincolnshire FA Inclusion Advisory Group.
We spoke to Zack to find out more about him and his aspirations within the role.
Tell us more about yourself...
My name is Zack Leader, I'm 23 years old and I play currently for Fedoras FC in the Gainsborough Sunday League. I've played for 4 years in the Gainsborough league now and used to play for Theddlethorpe FC at a young age.
What are your experiences within football?
I've had some brilliant experiences in football. As well as playing in my local Sunday League for a few years; I've played on Lincoln City's LNER Stadium in a charity game for Mind, played in the Football For All tournament for Tottenham Hotspur's Proud Lilywhites, as well as previously running a 6 a side team and winning a division with them, and picking up personal trophies like Golden Boot's along the way. It's not been easy being a member of the LGBTQ+ community in football though, I've faced homophobia both in the 6-a-side leagues and in the Sunday League as well - in person and on social media. I was not made to feel welcome playing football when I was younger and didn't play for 9 years as a kid.
How did you find yourself as the Lincolnshire FA LGBTQ+ Ambassador?
Since dealing with the homophobia I've faced, I've done a bit of media work and decided to try make a difference in football and leave a legacy of making football more inclusive for the LGBTQ+ community. This has led to me volunteering with the charity 'Just Like Us' as well as telling my story in the LGBTQ+ Workshops organised by the Lincolnshire FA as part of the Rainbow Laces campaign. From this, I've been invited to become the Lincolnshire FA's LGBTQ+ Ambassador which I'm really excited to begin working on with Jordan.
What do you hope to achieve as the Lincolnshire FA LGBTQ+ Ambassador?
My aim with this role is to be a role model for other LGBTQ+ people in football, whether they be out and proud or coming to terms with who they are and finding their place in the game. Since the incidents of homophobia with me, I've been trying to try help others who may have been in similar situations, and to help young LGBT people in the game see that there is a place for them, regardless of who they are and how they identify. That started me on a journey of trying to represent and help others, and that leads me to where I am today.
For me, it’s important to know that it doesn’t matter who you are, or how you identify, you can do anything and be anything. Being LGBT doesn’t mean you’re restricted to liking stereotypical things that people will refer to as being a bit “gay”, being LGBT doesn’t define your interests and what you want to do with your life. It's not about forcing people to come out in the game, it's about creating a safe and accepting space for people to feel like they can be themselves without prejudice so they can express openly who they are should they want to.