With a staff including some of the top names in English football, Show Racism the Red Card has been making a big impact across the UK. SRTRC Ireland’s Eoin Mc Cafferty went to find out and tells us about his visit to the anti-racism project on Tyneside.
Shaka Hislop who was the first choice goalkeeper at Newcastle United in 1995, was the instigator of the campaign, after he had been racially abused at the local shell station near the team’s home ground. Since then the organisation has grown hugely and now has a large team of workshop leaders and ex professionals from the game with the list having key players of their time like Gary Bennett and Dublin born John Anderson.
Arrival in Newcastle and getting a ticket for the big derby game with Sunderland
Departing Dublin Airport at 6am on Sat morning was certainly difficult but now that I look back it was definitely well worth the effort. I arrived in Newcastle at 9:30pm and did what any sports enthusiast would do and went straight to see St James Park home to Newcastle United football club and club legends.
The remainder of Saturday was all about seeing the city and the sights that the beautiful city has. Sunday on the other hand was crazy. For those of you who follow sports, you will know how big a local derby match is and how much everyone wants to be there and I was no different.
I arrived into St James metro station at 9am and the hunt began for the elusive ticket that would get me entry to the match between Newcastle and their bitter rivals Sunderland. For 2 and a half hours there was nothing and when there was the tickets they were going for £100-£120, just as I was giving up hope, with 10mins to go a gentle man came up and asked was I looking for a ticket as he had a spare one because his son was sick. Needless to say I gave him his offer of £35 and I was off to the game.
The atmosphere was great and surprisingly the game was played in good spirits but unfortunately Newcastle lost 3-0 at home. All that said it was a great experience and I enjoyed it, it was then off to meet some of the guys from SRtRC HQ and catch up.
Monday was when the real work started and I was collected by the wonderful Laura Pidcock of the SRtRC team for a visit to a primary school in Percy Main. We did class workshops with the kids and dealt with all the key issues of racism and how the kids can help to combat it and make their society a better place.
The kids appeared to be very well informed and knowledgeable on the topic as they had previously watched the DVD.
Ex- Irish International coaching kids
After the classroom education workshop with Laura, I joined John Anderson an ex Ireland and Newcastle player outside for a fun fitness and coaching education workshop.
The session reinforced the information and knowledge that had been taught in the class earlier in the day as well as giving the kids a chance to ask John questions about any discrimination he experienced while playing and any other sports related questions from his lengthy career with Newcastle United.
Training the teachers
Monday evening myself and Laura led a Twilight teacher training session where the teachers were brought through a similar type of workshop as the kids but the emphasis was on the teachers been able to facilitate and lead an anti-racism class section and help the youths to best understand the whole topic and how we can eliminate it in society.
Back to St James Park but this time with the right result
Tuesday was a very interesting day the guys had organised an event at St James Park the home of Newcastle United Football Club. The event was set up as a young journalist’s event where the kids had to set up their own paper and write an article on racism in society. The day entailed the kids arriving early in the morning and the guys leading workshop based activities that helped the kids to get a better understanding of the area of racism and how they can help to combat it.
Star players support Show Racism the Red Card
The workshops were also attended and co-facilitated by ex Newcastle United players such as John Anderson, Olivier Bernard and Richard Offiong, as well as former Sunderland AFC stalwart Gary Bennett, Crystal Palace legend Dean Gordon and former Cambridge United and Leicester City striker Trevor Benjamin. Their hands on and game environment experience added the kids in seeing the consequences of racism in society and sport.
Kids as journalists
Through the education workshop, pupils took notes and then final event was due to take place. A panel of special guests was introduced and the kids took the role usually taken by journalists. They would stand up and give the name of their paper, school and then ask one of the special guests a questions.
The panel included (see pic above) Ex Professionals and the panel were also joined by Show Racism the Red Card volunteer and Newcastle United blogger Natasha Bougourd as well as special guests Mapou Yanga-Mbiwa and Massadio Haidara from the Newcastle United first team squad. The kids were then sent home to write an article for the competition with the winner to be decided later and the winner would receive a football signed by the current Newcastle United squad. The day was a great success and the kids finished off by getting autographs from the entire panel and all went home happy.
Working with hard to reach young people
My Final day in Newcastle with the Show Racism the Red Card crew was doing a youth group workshop at Morpeth Football Club with 3 of the SRtRC guys (Laura, Lizz and Olivier). The group was made up of youths who had been excluded from schools so were been educated externally from the main stream education system. I was informed prior to the workshop that the group would be challenging but that the workshop would be very good and I would learn a lot.
It was great to see a totally different environment from a class and see that the workshops are universal and it doesn’t matter where you do it the results are almost identical. It was great to see the kids also take on board all of what was been presented and there was a lot of learning and belief in what was been said and I feel the kids went away feeling very good and better informed on what racism is and what they can do to tackle it.
All in all it was a great few days in Newcastle and I would like to thank everyone at Show Racism the Red Card in Newcastle and all the ex professionals and current professionals. The trip was a great thing for me and I have come back here to Ireland with a greater understanding of all that is involved with the project and will be passing on all my knowledge to schools and youth services all over Ireland.