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A Master leading the way


SINCE THE under-14 footballers of Nirvana Football Club (NFC) and their parents claimed they suffered racist abuse in a match against rivals Blaby and Whetstone Football Club (BWFC) last October, NFC’s chairman Kirk Master has been working tirelessly to highlight examples in which ethnic minority players suffer as a result of their race.

Working with the Society of Black Lawyers (SBL), Black and Asian Coaches Association (BACA), and The Voice, Master and his club are set to host the Race for Football roadshow on March 20 at the African and Caribbean Centre in Leicester it will be the first of four events.

The others are scheduled to take place in Birmingham, Manchester and London.

The roadshows are part of the overall Race for Sport campaign – the fruit of the combined efforts of Master, SBL, BACA and The Voice.

NFC’s outspoken stance against racism was sparked by outraged parents who had enough of witnessing racial abuse from the sidelines, and – taking into context the high-profile race controversies in the Premier League over the last 14 months – the time seemed right for grassroots football to have its say on racism.

NFC’s county FA, Leicester and Rutland, initiated its own investigation into the claims against BWFC, but last week a man associated with the accused club was charged by police for a public order offence in relation to the incident.

LEADING MAN: Nirvana FC club chairman Kirk Master

As a result the county FA’s hearing into the matter has been put “on hold, indefinitely,” Master told The Voice. “We’ve not heard back from the FA yet, they just say they’re following national guidelines.”

Master said he has sent the FA a letter expressing the club’s “disappointment” with its decision to charge two NFC teenagers for comments they made on Facebook.

It was an action which also angered SBL’s chairman Peter Herbert, who has been vociferous in making his displeasure known about the sport’s governing bodies.

Furthermore, Master is considering whether the FA’s decision of “victimising victims” is worthy of legal action. “It’s an option we’re going to explore,” the NFC chairman says.

Concerning the children who played in the fateful match, Master said they are coping.

“They’re tough kids, they’re inner-city kids – they’ve experienced that kind of stuff before,” Master explained, adding that “we as a football club operate on a basis to take away some of those pressures of being an inner-city black kid, hence the reason we’re challenging [racism], because we don’t expect it in that kind of environment.”

Master is keen to see community participation at the upcoming roadshow from which he wants to collect evidence to show hard facts of racism to the authorities.

“We need people in there saying their piece, representing.

“It’s going to be their story, their experience, and their recommendations, but if they’re not there, they’re not going to have a voice,” he added.

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