Burnley’s Newest Fans Tackle Racism

Sky Sports News come to town to tackle racism

Reports of racism in sport have been on the increase lately and Friday 22nd March 2019 saw Sky Sports News come to town to tackle racism. Tackling Racism is a special feature which has been broadcasting since this year on Sky Sports News.

86 per cent of football fans who regularly attend matches in the UK have witnessed a racist incident at a game, a Sky Data Poll for Sky Sports News has revealed. More than 1,000 football fans took part in the survey and it found that 93 per cent of Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) supporters have seen racism at UK football matches. It also revealed one in three fans (33 per cent) have had racist abuse directed at them personally with that figure rising to 71 per cent when polling fans of BAME backgrounds. (Source: https://www.skysports.com/football/story-telling/11095/11631741/86-per-cent-witnessed-racism-at-football

Through Burnley FC, Sky Sports heard of the excellent work Burnley, Pendle & Rossendale CVS have been doing in the communities of Burnley and Pendle with Syrian refugees and wanted to film one of the football sessions and interview a selection of Syrian refugees for their opinion on racism in football and their experiences. Sky Sports News was also interested in the thoughts and feelings of the refugees in relation to how they have found integrating into communities and resettling in a new country.

Despite only recently coming to the country and not being able to speak English at all in most cases, the refugees performed excellently on camera and demonstrated good English speaking skills. It was reassuring to hear that none of the refugees we support have experienced any direct racism either at football or in the communities of Burnley and Pendle. Moreover it was pleasing to hear how positively they viewed integrating into our local communities. Each refugee interviewed spoke highly of Burnley as a town and its people and most are now fully fledged converted Burnley FC fans. 

For exclusive behind the scenes footage we've got several clips on our YouTube channel.

Last year some male refugees expressed a strong desire to play football. BPRCVS approached Burnley FC in the Community to see if they could possibly help to arrange free football sessions. The football club’s charity was more than happy to help and quickly arranged a free weekly one hour session of football. Having started with just three Syrian refugees it has quickly grown to accommodate as many as twenty refugees every week. Burnley FC in the Community coaches deliver short training exercises followed by a friendly match between two teams.

Kindly organised by Burnley FC in the Community, some of the refugees have been awarded with trips to Turf Moor to watch their first ever live Premier League game. On Saturday 16th March before the Leicester City match, a group of Sudanese refugees located in Leicester were invited to take part in a friendly match against the Syrian refugees. The fixture was held at the Leisure Box in Brierfield. After the match both teams of players enjoyed homemade Syrian food and made their way to Turf Moor to watch the Burnley versus Leicester City match.

Again in conjunction with Burnley FC in the Community, BPRCVS is looking to organise fitness sessions requested by the female refugees to take part in and keep fit. Hopefully these sessions will begin very soon.

Lancashire Association of CVS (LACVS) is funded by Lancashire County Council to facilitate the Lancashire Refugee Programme and appointed BPRCVS to support Syrian refugees in Burnley and Pendle.

The Syrian refugees are supported to attend English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) classes to learn English. In addition to these classes it is important for the Syrians to integrate into their new local communities, learn about British culture and history, and have as many positive experiences as possible to help them settle into their new home.