Lincolnshire Football Association have been awarded the Football v Homophobia County FA Award for 2023. The award recognised the important contribution that English County FAs make to increasing LGBTQ+ inclusion, as well as addressing LGBTQ+phobia within their area. Lincolnshire were among three County FA’s shortlisted along with Cheshire FA and London FA.
The FvH Awards are held annually to recognise the work that happens both in and around LGBTQ+ inclusion in football, across all levels of the game. This year’s ceremony took place at the National Football Museum in Manchester on Friday 24th February, and was attended by Nick Hanson (CEO), Jordan Mason (Football Development Officer for Disability & Inclusion), Emma Olivier-Townrow (Vice-Chair of the Lincolnshire FA Inclusion Advisory Group), and FvH Hero Award Nominee Zack Leader (LGBTQ+ Ambassador and Media & Marketing Intern).
The Football v Homophobia campaign exists to challenge discrimination based on sexual orientation, gender identity and expression at all levels in football. As an international initiative, FvH engages in campaigning, education, advice and guidance, research, policy consultation and capacity building to:
• Make existing football structures safe, welcoming, and inclusive for LGBTQ+ people
• Create opportunities and promote engagement of LGBTQ+ people in football at all levels and in all forms
• Improve the representation and visibility of LGBTQ+ people throughout football
• To realise the potential of football in society as a tool to create positive change
Earlier in February, Lincolnshire FA hosted their FvH weekend of action which included a half time Q&A at Lincoln City vs Portsmouth, a 6-a-side mixed gender tournament on the 3G astro pitches at the LNER Stadium, and a Q&A panel with guest speakers (Lou Englefield, Graeme Smith, Billy Bingham, Zack Leader & Jordan Mason). They also hosted two LGBTQ+ workshops which saw nearly 30 attendees from club officials and volunteers and are now up to 11 clubs engaging in their LGBTQ+ Club Accreditation Programme.
The award recognises the positive work being done by all at Lincolnshire FA, from the Football Development team, to the discipline and football operations team, to the Inclusion Advisory Group, to the CEO.
Nick Hanson, CEO of Lincolnshire FA, said: “We are delighted to be recognised for our work in this area. We are committed to ensuring that football is available to all members of our community. A fundamental pillar of work is creating safe and inclusive football environments and whilst this award supports the start we have made, there is still a lot more work to be done in creating fully inclusive environments.”
Lincolnshire FA have so far run 4 LGBTQ+ Workshops, seeing over 50 attendees in total. Jordan Mason, the Football Development Officer for Disability & Inclusion, and the key driving force behind the delivery of these workshops, said: "For many people across the country football still isn't a welcome space, so this season we set out to raise awareness of LGBTQ+ issues and ensure our football community are empowered to tackle homophobia, and drive LGBTQ+ inclusion within the game. Our initiatives have been incredibly well received, and it's fantastic to be recognised on a national scale for our efforts."
Zack Leader, Lincolnshire FA’s LGBTQ+ Ambassador, shared his feelings around the award on social media: “I can’t describe how truly happy I am with Lincs FA’s win. The hard work we’ve all been putting in is being seen and recognised, but most importantly is making a difference. At the start of February, our brilliant Operations team identified that there had been 16 cases in Lincolnshire so far this season of allegations around homophobic abuse, which is already 4 more than the entirety of last season. So, while we’re doing amazing work that is making a difference – there is plenty more to be done in Lincolnshire to make this game truly a place for all. Nobody should be made to feel this game we all love isn’t for them or accessible to them. Nobody should be deprived of that feeling when the ball hits the back of the net, and by not being inclusive of everyone – we could be denying ourselves the next World Cup winners.”
For more information on the Football v Homophobia campaign, click here, or for more information on what Lincolnshire FA are doing to make grassroots football more inclusive, click here
To report a case of discrimination, click here