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West Bromwich Albion FC is working with the Three Faiths Forum to help encourage young people in the Birmingham area to build good relations between all faiths, beliefs and cultures. The club’s legacy players, Cyrille Regis, Laurie Cunningham and Brendon Batson overcame racist attitudes to inspire a generation of black footballers and today this approach is enhanced to include the perspective of religious and faith-based tensions. Three Faiths Forum brings proven experience of connecting local schools and young people through school linking, inter-faith training and faith-to-faith encounters.
Funded through the Premier League’s Innovation Fund, Three Faiths Forum and The Albion Foundation are bringing to life a commitment to widening young people’s viewpoints by providing school children with an inspiring look at both racial and religious diversity. Local schools are invited to attend Who Am I and The Three Degrees workshops, held at the club’s ground, the Hawthorns.
The Three Degrees Workshop draws on West Bromwich FC’s pioneering work with diversity and integration. The experiences of Cunningham, Batson and Regis have been reframed to allow children to understand the prejudices the three faced in the 1970s and consider how important it is to treat everyone equally. Increasing numbers of players talk openly about their faith, yet issues of antisemitism and Islamophobia continue to hamper the game at all levels. Three Faiths Forum workshop, Who Am I, takes this backdrop and aims to help students understand their own faith and belief identity, with a view to building greater empathy towards others.
Around 30 children from the three schools attended the launch of The Three Degrees. At least 550 school children will benefit from free workshops in the spring and summer terms of 2018.
Commenting on the partnership Three Faiths Forum director, Phil Champain said:
“This partnership demonstrates the opportunity to support young people using different approaches; together we are helping develop inter-faith and cultural relations against the backdrop of football, a game that has a culturally familiar environment yet has also had its own share of faith-based tensions. Connected communities depend on people being free from barriers due to their race or faith and it is great to see the Premier League’s Innovation Fund invest in working in this way with the voluntary section and I know how hard the Albion Foundation have worked to get to this point, we at 3FF look forward to working with the project in the future.”
Dave Lawrence, Head of Sport at The Albion Foundation said:
“It’s an honour to be involved in a project that directly reaches out to kids to help them look to a better and more inclusive society. It’s important we never forget the need to continually assist the adults of tomorrow as they enter into a diverse and multi-cultural society.”
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