Odion Ighalo

Black History Month: 'Nobody is born a racist'

This month, Manchester United Foundation has been working with Kick It Out and the Premier League to tackle racism and discrimination across the partner school network.

In support of Black History Month, year five and six PL Primary Stars students from across Foundation partner primary schools, took part in a poster competition inspired by the Premier League’s No Room For Racism campaign. The activity aimed to raise awareness of the issues surrounding racism and discrimination while celebrating diversity and inclusivity in our communities.

Over 400 pupils took part in the competition, displaying their creativity, taking a stand against racism and highlighting the importance of celebrating our differences.

Luke Shaw.
Luke Shaw says there is no space for discrimination in any space.

A selection of the posters were presented to Manchester United first-team players Luke Shaw and Odion Ighalo, who championed the importance of educating pupils on Black History and anti-discrimination.

Luke said: “It’s good that the children are getting educated at such a young age. There’s no place for discrimination in any space, whether it’s in sport or in the general public. All of the posters are really nice, they should be very proud of what they’ve done.”

Odion echoed this, saying: “It’s very important to learn about Black History Month and anti-discrimination at school. If a change is going to come, it’s going to come from the younger generation because nobody is born a racist.

“Little ones can learn when they grow up that we’re all the same despite our colour or differences; we’re all human. I’m very happy to see the kids learning this at that age.”

Odion also went on to share his advice for any young person who is experiencing discrimination.

The Nigerian striker said: “It’s very important to talk about your problems with racism or discrimination, many people keep quiet but if you don’t talk about your problems you can’t solve them.

“Talk to people you love, tell them what you’re going through so they can help you.”

Both players also congratulated Madison, a year six student from St. Alphonsus Primary School, who won the competition with her detailed drawing of the Black Lives Matter movement.

When describing her poster, Madison said: “My poster was inspired by the protests that happened during lockdown and what I’ve learnt about Martin Luther King and Rosa Parks at school.

“I think it’s important to learn about Black History because you get to learn about people that changed it, all the people that should be remembered.”

Madison was blown away when she won: “It was great to win the poster competition, it was amazing. I wasn’t expecting it!”

Mrs Birds, head teacher at St. Alphonsus, explained why it was so important that students took part and learned about anti-discrimination. She said: “As our school is so culturally diverse, it’s about our diversity, individuality and the coming together of students. Black History Month is important for us, because it celebrates our diversity and highlights good role models for our Black communities within Old Trafford.”

The activity follows on from Manchester United Foundation’s recent partnership with Kick It Out, where money raised from football shirts printed with Black Lives Matter will be utilised to deliver anti-discrimination and inclusion classes across 48 partner secondary, primary and special schools, culminating in two football festivals next year.

Alongside this referee coaching will be delivered to local black and minority ethnic students, diversifying the pool of referees, as well as providing the opportunity to achieve referee qualifications and earn income officiating matches in grassroots football.

The programme looks to engage over 1,000 young people, equipping them with equality, diversity and inclusion knowledge while uniting communities. The announcement follows the launch of Kick It Out’s national campaign, Take A Stand, which is challenging everyone across the football community to take action or make a public pledge in the fight against discrimination.

Sanjay Bhandari, Kick It Out Chair, said: “Through our Take A Stand campaign, we want to create a culture where everyone belongs and individuals take personal responsibility for being part of the change. One of the ways to achieve that is through education and working on the ground with local communities, to promote a more inclusive society. Our partnership with Manchester United Foundation will help us achieve just that. We look forward to working together and helping even more young people gain new skills and qualifications through the power of football.”

To find out more visit: premierleague.com/noroomforracism and kickitout.org/news/take-a-stand

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