Situated in the old players lounge under the East stand, the Fans For Diversity Hub hosted groups from Leyton Orient and Dagenham and Redbridge as part of a festive collaboration between the two clubs coinciding with their fixtures on Boxing Day and New Year’s Day.
The Fans For Diversity Hub is supported by Kick It Out, the Football Supporters’ Federation and First Class Facilities Management, and provides a unique matchday experience for diverse groups and organisations, allowing them to enjoy a professional game in a welcoming, safe and comfortable environment.
The Christmas activity saw the two rival clubs come together in the Hub to encapsulate the festive spirit of the season and greeted walking footballers from both teams, who also received gifts, as well as the players taking part in the pre-match flag parade, guard of honour and a 5-a-side penalty shoot-out during the half-time break at both games.
Prior to the activity across both matches, a special Fans For Diversity workshop was also held in the Hub on Wednesday 13th December with young groups from Willowfield School in Waltham Forest and the Under-12s and Under-14s girls teams from Dagenham.
In the workshop, the young people learned about the work of Fans For Diversity as well as how to report discrimination in football and society. The groups also chose the Christmas gifts for the walking footballers that were distributed on Boxing Day in the Hub and the girls teams were also invited to be pre-match flag bearers..
Ahead of the fixtures, Anwar Uddin, former Dagenham captain and current lead on the Fans For Diversity campaign, spoke of his delight to connect the two rival clubs during the festive period.
“The Hub at Leyton Orient has been one of the many fantastic success stories for the Fans For Diversity campaign and we’re delighted we can continue our relationship with Leyton Orient this season.
“With my connection to Dagenham, I thought this was the perfect opportunity to show what Fans For Diversity is about – which is to bring people from different backgrounds together and unite them through football.
“It’ll be great to see Leyton Orient and the Daggers show their support for Fans For Diversity over the festive week and I hope it is a fantastic experience for everyone involved.”
The Daggers went on to take a 4-1 lead into the New Year’s day second-leg as the O’s managed to hit the cross-bar on no less than three occasions at Brisbane Road and with both teams claiming maximum kudos at the return at the Chigwell Construction Stadium, the O’s suffered a 9-6 aggregate defeat. However, the vision of unity, friendship and giving was totally fulfilled with all concerned extremely happy with the entire experience.
Howard Gould, O’s Community Liaison Officer, said afterwards, “We were very pleased to go with Anwar’s idea of a united Christmas celebration between the two clubs to show that rivalry and diversity can easily combine and run alongside the football match itself and spectator side of things.
“Logistically some things were a little tricky but both clubs should be praised for their efforts in making it all come together and I’d like to thank Denis Lawrence and his team at Dagenham & Redbridge Community Trust for helping to make it a real success with some great memories for all concerned.”
Find out more about the Fans For Diversity Hub by watching this short video here: https://youtu.be/X3oEjIZrDa8