Colleagues from our in-house repairs team Evolve played a friendly match against a Merseyside-based LGBT football team last Sunday (4 August), showing our ongoing commitment to equality, diversity and inclusion.
We played our first football match as part of our corporate sponsorship of the Mersey Marauders inclusive football team.
As a Stonewall Diversity Champion, this year rising to 26th in Stonewall’s Top 100 employer rankings for promoting equality and diversity in the workplace and across its communities, we are sponsoring the Mersey Marauders for two years. This will enable the team to play in the world’s only national LGBT football league, the Gay Football Supporters’ Network League, covering transport costs to play in matches in Birmingham, Leeds, Cardiff and London, as well as in the Midlands League.
Our £1,500 donation has also enabled the Mersey Marauders, who have recently returned from playing in the European LGBT sporting games in Rome, to purchase their new kit and to update their website which will help to attract more players, building the talent for the team and the chance to play more games.
The Mersey Marauders won a competitive match 5-3, playing the game on the 3G pitch at St. John Boscoe Art College in Croxteth.
The teams played in Riverside branded kit and showed their solidarity by wearing rainbow laces on their football boots, which is part of Stonewall’s anti-homophobic campaign supported by the Football Association.
Michael Gill, Co-Chair of the Spectrum, our LGBT Staff Group, said: “To coincide with the start of the new football season, this match puts a spotlight on LGBT+ sports which is still needed because of the stigma against LGBT. In Liverpool and London we’ve seen recent hate crime attacks; there’s an acceptance in society there’s still more to do. Football is an equaliser, where all the players are integrated.”
Paul Williams, Chair of Mersey Marauders FC, added: “Riverside’s support has made a massive difference in terms of our players costs, as we travel in a national league, allowing us to increase the amount of games we play. Riverside is such a good advocate for LGBT+ rights. A large organisation like Riverside spans so far. It is beneficial for employees and customers of Riverside to spread the message.”
Brian Gates, Community and Development Manager for Evolve, our in-house repairs contractor, said: “We had no hesitation in sponsoring the Mersey Marauders. Playing against the Marauders is a great way of integration and understanding, as well as tackling the myths of LGBT. It’s great as a workforce to become more understanding.”
Further friendly football matches will be held between Riverside and Mersey Marauders FC.