The Proudly East London Football Tournament: Galvanising a Community
There is something of a football movement emerging in London. Small, Non League clubs are taking on socially oriented causes, addressing issues such as gentrification, racism, homophobia, sexism, and xenophobia. On June 6th, Clapton FC, Hackney Wick FC, Stonewall FC, and Football Beyond Borders played in the Proudly East London tournament. A first attempt at bringing together a network of grass-roots football clubs and organizations. East End Phoenix, Clapton FC Ultras, Jewdas, and FC United of Manchester Fans London also took part in a simultaneous tournament allowing like-minded lovers of the game to come together.
It was an all too rare London sunny day, as socially conscious youths celebrated football and acceptance. While most of East London’s young professionals were wrapped up in the city’s myriad of music festivals, One-pound vegan sandwiches and homemade cupcakes adorned the registration table by the 5-a-side pitches at Mile End Park.
With the support of Kick it Out, and the Football Supporters Federation, these teams have now realized their collective power to promote social inclusion, and celebrate diversity. It is not new to see football supporters unite over these ideals. Clubs like Sankt Pauli, and Dulwich Hamlet, just to name two, have a long history of supporting the fight against discrimination.
The Proudly East London Football Tournament is a shining example of how football can be more than just a game. As these clubs continue to grow in support and progress in their leagues, the future of East London’s football seen seems brighter than ever. For a community that has undergone so much change in recent years, this tournament, as it continues to grow in future editions, has the opportunity to become a catalyst for dialogue, and active participation.