Earlier this month, Leyton Orient hosted an event with Show Racism the Red Card. It is the eighth consecutive year Leyton Orient has partnered with the anti-racism education charity to deliver this event. Over 100 pupils and teachers from Aldersbrook School attended the afternoon which included a workshop and panel discussion with Orient players Macauley Bonne and George Elokobi and ex-professional player, Jason Lee.
Dean Gibson, Parent Support Advisor, Aldersbrook School said: "We were more than happy to attend the event today having been lucky enough to have had the experience a few years ago. The children gain valuable information and certainly food for thought and the teachers are always delighted with the presentation and interaction with the hosts and the players. It's an excellent workshop and as an Orient fan, I'm always happy to visit the stadium, especially in the name of work!"
Afterwards, we spoke to Macauley, George and Jason about the event and why they were keen to be involved.
Can you tell us about the event:
Jason Lee (JL): “Show Racism the Red Card gathers support from the football community, especially football clubs, and invites local school children in for a workshop to learn about racism.”
George Elokobi (GE): “It was amazing, the questions and the turn out from the kids was really good today. It’s great to see a club like Leyton Orient is making it their priority to be part of campaigns like this. It’s good to see workshops like this are put in place to educate the next generation to make them aware of what’s happening in the world.”
Why did you want to get involved in the event today?
Macauley Bonne (MB): “I wanted to help the younger generation learn about what’s happening with racism in the modern game, and not just in football but in everyday life too. I think sharing my experiences and getting it off my chest was really important. I’m not really a big speaker of what I’ve experienced, but hopefully speaking about my past will let them know it’s OK to speak up.”
GE: “Because I’ve suffered racism in the past, I feel like I need to tell my story to educate the younger generation. It’s all about the education, to educate them to recognise when they are being racially abused or when they are being treated differently.”
What do you think the pupils got out of today?
JL: “They got the chance to chat to current professional players like Macauley and George, and me, who they wouldn’t know - but maybe their parents would! We spent time with them, engaged with them and answered questions and made it as interactive and as fun as possible. But most importantly it is an educational workshop, so they would have learnt how racism has affected people before them, and hopefully they can learn from other people’s experiences. Some of the kids had some great questions today; ‘when did it start?’ ‘How did it start?’ And ‘what can we do to eradicate it?’
MB: I hope we’ve helped them to understand when they suffer racist abuse towards them, or they hear of it, to report it as it needs to be dealt with, because racism can’t be left alone.”
Why are events like this important?
JL: “At the Professional Football Association we support Show Racism the Red Card, we educate our current players. I think the only thing you can do is to keep educating people and hoping that they take on board the messages and how hurtful it can be to be discriminatory towards someone else. We’ll always need to continue to do events like this. When we stop it will be when we’ve won the war on racism. There has been improvement over the years, there has been improvement within football, but we’re still fighting the fight. Young people are the future so the sooner you start and the earlier you get into young minds hopefully you’re creating a better world.”