Leyton Orient teamed up with ‘Show Racism the Red Card’ once again last month when the charity came to deliver an educational workshop on the issues of racism and discrimination in football at the Matchroom Stadium.
The second floor Gallery welcomed 90 local school children from Oakdale Juniors School in South Woodford for the two-hour workshop that included active discussion, a short film, and guest appearances from Paul McCallum and Alex Cisak for a Q&A session to finish the afternoon.
The ‘Show Racism the Red Card’ campaign was established 21 years ago. Their work involves travelling up and down the country, visiting schools and educating children on how to tackle these issues which unfortunately still find their way into the game. They meet around 50,000 children a year, and Orient have been great supporters of the campaign for several years.
This event was led by Steve Goodsell, Regional Manager for the South East of England, and Lionel Morgan, Educational Facilitator. Morgan played football professionally but his career was sadly ended by injury. On the day, they both gave a professional and insightful presentation which was full of valuable messages that everybody in attendance could take away with them.
Activities included being shown pictures of people from different ethnic backgrounds and pupils were divided into groups of 10 and given questions to discuss and feedback on.
The children were in Year 6 (aged 10 - 11), and for their age gave some very mature and thoughtful responses which was extremely impressive. They were a real credit to their school, their teachers, and their families.
Another task involved identifying the correct terminology that should be used to describe people from various ethnic backgrounds. The children were asked to identify the four key points used to define racism: religion, nationality, culture, skin colour. The moral of the afternoon was not to judge a book by its cover, and if you want to find out more about somebody then you should ask them.
After a short break, the children were shown a film from the campaign, which featured various well-known players and celebrities, past and present, who gave their reasons for getting involved with the campaign.
To conclude the afternoon, striker Paul McCallum and goalkeeper Alex Cisak arrived to take part in a Q&A session, where prizes were up for grabs to those children who asked the best questions. Questions included bullying, discrimination, and the impact that these have on their victims. Not only did the children ask great questions, but the players also responded very well.
Every pupil received a bag of goodies to take home with them which included squad photos signed by McCallum and Cisak and of course there was time for a group photo with the players and campaign leaders.
Mary Lloyd-Evans, teacher at Oakdale Juniors School, said: “Thank you for an amazing afternoon. It’s helped give the children some insight into what problems players, and everybody in the world, faces with racism. It’s helped to get a clearer picture of what racism actually means.”
Lionel Morgan, Educational Facilitator for the ‘Show Racism the Red Card’ campaign said: “I think some of the questions from the kids were fantastic especially at the end. One of the best schools we have had to be fair; really thoughtful. It showed that they had listened throughout the day. That’s quite a big indication if they have listened depending on the questions you hear. I thought they did really well, they listened well and had some really thought-provoking ideas when they were in their discussions. What does help normally is if they are quite a diverse school, which they are and what we find is that they are probably less afraid to talk about these types of things than schools that don’t have that type of diversity. Overall, I think the day went really well.”