By Martin Ryder
In modern times a standard interview question from an employer might be, what do you understand to mean by the word “diversity” and no we are not talking about the dance group! I do know of one occasion that an interviewee answered that question with – it’s when a farmer has hit hard times and they open a farm shop.
Football in the stands has traditionally been a male dominated affair for many years but with the changes in society, ever more diverse and inclusive, ever more multicultural, it’s probably not a bad business model for a club to want to engage with fans whoever they might be and wherever they are from. Diversity is about recognising that we are all different and have our own different needs.
In the Fanzine of another club (to remain unnamed) I read the line, “we are all football supporters, gender is irrelevant”. Your initial thought might be it’s a fair point, we all wear red and white, pay our money and then go home. I wonder how that same man would feel however if his club shop only stocked women sized clothing or consider how a single female going to her first game alone might need some additional advice or support?
It’s not a one size fits all and while we all know that LCFC is a welcoming and safe place to be there are those new to football, those who might be from a different culture or with a need invisible to the rest of the crowd. Recently, L.I.S.A with support from the club and Imps in the Community invited the local Eastern European community to attend Sincil Bank. This wasn’t because they were any more deserving but because we wanted to ensure there were no barriers or concerns to hinder their attendance, we can apply the same question to people from any background.
We catered for 30 and 76 attended, 76 more potential Imps in what to our knowledge was the first event of its type. As families (despite living on the doorstep) excitedly took photographs within the stadium it was clear that a hugely positive event was unfolding. Five families were invited as guests to attend a game, those that missed out asked how they could buy tickets – a simple act of friendship and inclusivity was benefitting both our club and community, it has already resulted in additional ticket and merchandise sales and more will no doubt follow.
Our idea was importantly, a fan led initiative. This wasn’t some commercially motivated event, however commercially positive it might have been for the club, this was about a group of existing fans saying, hello, welcome, come and join us. Our group is one of a number trying to do our bit for the Imps, it’s just about looking for ways to make a positive difference rather than looking for negativity often disguised as “banter”. Who better to welcome new supporters than supporters themselves, something we repeated today at the Diversity Festival event we attended at Lincoln University.
Please don’t dismiss the importance of diversity it has the potential to fill a new stadium, bring people and communities together, break down barriers and enable the club to grow much more.
Diversity in support, diversity in the way we support, all the same and yet all different - no harm in that. UTMI
By Gemma Bell
I have had a busy few months after making a decision to take up a couple of roles at a new club. I chose this club based on their love and drive for female participation in all aspects of the game. Hykeham Town FC not only cater for boys but also girls from all walks of life. The club is only four years old but the people driving the club show no sign of stopping and its growth is fast-paced. This year was Hykeham Town Ladies FC’s debut season whom, at the time of writing, sit top of their table: East Midlands Women’s Regional League Division 1 North.
It has provided me with more opportunities to engage with The FA and their England DNA; the DNA is England’s coaching and playing philosophy. Engaging with it is eye-opening. In particular, I have loved my conversations with Pete Sturgess, The FA’s Lead for 5-11-year-olds, which is also known as The Foundation Phase. His inspirational messages ring true to my own coaching philosophy where I would rather coach in a way that develops my players than to win-at-all-costs. When I coach my players, I don’t place an emphasis on what the score line is going to be at the end of the game or what the win-loss record might be at the end of the season.
That is not what drives me to make the decisions I make as a coach. I coach because I hope that, in 10-15 years’ time, my players will have had the best opportunities to be the best player that they can be. This could be them playing on a Sunday in a local Sunday league with their friends, or playing for their national team. I want them to be confident, creative and have a passion for the game that nobody can take away from them. I want to develop warriors who have a hunger and desire to win games but, equally, have the resilience to face losses and use them to learn and improve.
With this DNA, The FA aim to nurture players who are creative and can master the ball. I mean let’s face it, we are all bored of watching the England men’s team play football that is far from that of our innovative competitors. Modern football is fast-paced, it is skilled and it is exciting to watch. The game of futsal is widely recognised in Spain and Brazil, for example, for its benefits to fast-paced and skilful football. In England, our national teams’ ever-improving style of football goes hand-in-hand with the growth of futsal provision, and that’s no coincidence!
Photo credit: Taken from Hertfordshire FA JODY CAUDWELL: COACHING THE WHY
So what does that mean for the everyday grassroots parent stood on the sidelines? Well, it means that if your child’s coach is following the England DNA, you will (or should!) hear far less commands from the sidelines about how to play the game. Through small-sided games and promoting player ownership in training, we aim to create players who are able to go out on a Saturday or Sunday and play without constant direction and interruption from the sidelines. The players we will create will make mistakes but they will also make fantastic decisions and will be constantly learning whilst they play. It means that, as a parent, you might not understand what the coach is trying to achieve most of the time but, if you go and ask them, I’m sure you’ll be fascinated by the answer.
People say this all of the time: if Messi was English, would he have been the player that he is today? “Pass, pass!”, “Stick it out!” or “Get rid!” have killed our ability to play football. I have watched numerous videos of Messi growing up from 5 years old all the way through to now and he initially looks selfish on the ball but that is precisely how ball mastery is achieved!!! It is confidence not selfishness; it’s actually due to how a child develops. As Messi carried on and on throughout his learning journey, he learnt when to pass the ball and when to dribble with it. Now look at him, wouldn't we all want a Messi on our team?
I urge you to go to your clubs and find out if they’re following The FA’s England DNA or, at least, an adapted version. If you want to find out more and engage with the programme yourself then you can join The FA’s Hive Learning Community.
I urge both parents and coaches to use Hive, if you aren’t already: https://t.co/Rvl4Wf0jaW.
Once you have signed up, you will need to create a profile and then use the ‘Search’ bar to locate the ‘England DNA Foundation Phase’. Here, you will be able to access the information, resources and discussion boards for young players aged 5-11.
We don't want boring football anymore, do we?
...SO, WHAT ABOUT OUR PRINCESSES?
I was given the opportunity to head to St George’s Park, The FA’s National Football Centre, to engage with a programme that I am absolutely certain will make a difference to many girls both here in Lincoln and across the nation. The FA and SSE have launched an initiative designed to inspire girls aged between 5 to 11 to be involved in football. SSE Wildcats Girls’ Football Centres aim to provide girls with regular opportunities to play football and take part in organised sessions in a fun and engaging environment.
#havefun #makefriends #lovefootball #ssewildcats
To find out more about Hykeham Town FC and the Hykeham Town SSE Wildcats Girls’ Football Centre, which is the only one in the City of Lincoln area, please visit our club’s website: http://www.hykehamtownfc.co.uk/
By Maria Horner
We are about to extend an invitation to our neighbours to come and see the wonder of Sincil Bank!
Families who live around the Sincil Bank area, and from the wider area in Lincoln and who happen to be from the Polish, Lithuanian, Latvian, Slovakian etc (what some will refer to as the ‘Eastern European’ community) are being invited to come and see for themselves the football club on their doorstep.
The idea is that while the children in the area may be football mad and may have been caught up in Cowley fever perhaps at school, their parents may be unsure about attending a football match here.
There may be reasons around being concerned as to the reception they may get (perhaps underpinned by unrelated negative experiences) or they could have views on football matches based on images and reports of what football is like in their country of origin – which may be very different from what football has become here in the U.K.
I don’t want those kids to miss out on what their mates at school might be experiencing when they follow Lincoln City FC. I would like to open a door and say welcome to those kids and their families in and around Sincil Bank, and the city generally. Don’t forget many of these children may have been born in our fabulous city, and if not, certainly their living memory will be all about Lincoln. They too are a potential new generation of Imps!
I realise we are selling out more matches, but not every match will be. If we can just say to the people living within throwing distance of the stadium – come and enjoy what’s on your doorstep – that can’t be a bad thing can it? So why a special event? While many of the children will speak English as their first language, their parents may not. It’s about building those bridges and ensuring they know that Sincil Bank is a brilliant place to be for families as well as all other supporters.
I’m passionate about including people, and maximising the enjoyment you get, that feeling when people come together with a shared interest – obviously in our case Lincoln City FC. It’s how L.I.S.A was born...
As an affiliate member of the Football Supporters Federation our aims also chime with the Kick it Out campaign. When the club nominated a fixture to be its ‘Kick it Out’ fixture, as many clubs do, of course I thought L.I.S.A should be doing something to promote the message.
On the 22nd March 2018 L.I.S.A, Imps in the Community, LCFC and the Lincolnshire Polish Society will open up the VIP suite and we hope many families from those communities come and find out about our brilliant club. They will have the chance to win tickets to the nominated Kick it Out match fixture on Tuesday 17th April against Wycombe. Funding is coming from the club and the Fans for Diversity fund (Football Supporters Federation & Kick it Out).
It’s not been done before, all we can do is open the door and say, “Come in, it’s great to be an Imp!”
By L.I.S.A Committee
This month sees the first birthday of L.I.S.A and what an interesting and eventful year it has been. The arrival of Spring (said while looking at the thawing snow outside!) sees a manic month for us, yes, partly our own fault but also partly down to fixture movement and windows of opportunity. Friday 16th sees our L.I.S.A Band Night event at Rustons and we are pleased to report its nearing a sell out with over 100 Imps attending. Monday 19th and our Cowley v Cowley panel show hits the Engine Shed with an anticipated crowd of 600 Imps attending, brilliant. Thursday 22nd and we are hosting Eastern European families at Sincil Bank in support of this years designated Kick it Out fixture against Wycombe in April - encouraging new fans, fingers crossed!
To achieve such a lot in a short space of time has required our own team to expand considerably as well as having outside help from many different people and organisations. It’s fair to say we could write a book on it all never mind just do a blog update! In being extremely grateful for the support of so many we are conscious that this is an expensive time to be an Imp (blame the Cowley’s for the Wembley expense). While we have tried to keep costs to a minimum we know that there are real financial pressures on people so thank you, thank you to all of you spending your hard-earned cash in support of our events.
We think it is safe to say that when we are old and grey (or older and greyer for some of us) we will have some great stories to share with the grandkids, the “do you remember when..” type thing. If we can raise money for brilliant causes, if we can bring new supporters and revenue to our football club, if we can bring people and groups together and put some real purpose behind #ImpsAsOne – well, those are aims that we are happy to be that bit greyer for! Tickets remain available for both Band Night and Cowley v Cowley, we hope you can join us, everyone welcome as always. Up the imps.
By Gemma Bell
Well I'll be damned... Chelsea are coming to Sincil Bank. The 'development' squad of my other club are coming here. I guess I'm one of those two team (insert crude word) ... and I should be of mixed emotions right? Wrong.
I'm fully backing Lincoln. I'm not afraid to say that and whilst I'm neither for nor against the boycott (of which none of us can speak about without weeks of debate) I would love to elaborate on my thoughts on why everyone up and down the country with a love for the game should be rooting for the Imps and it's really not boycott related.
Early on in the week Chelsea's senior team took on Arsenal in the League Cup losing 2-1. During the game Willian was injured and Conte only had Ross Barkley to bring to the field of play from a drab bench. He was a controversial signing, having saved 20mil in the January sales, bagging him for a sweet 15mil. So here he is centre of attention being shoved on to the pitch alongside some of the best players the Premier League has to offer. On he goes and whilst I wholeheartedly agree he is lacking in performance he needs time on the ball, game time! With that and guidance I think he may well be a fantastic player. Now maybe it's the grassroots in me or maybe it's that I'm a human being but I, a 31 year Chelsea supporter, almost broke my TV listening to Conte slam him after the game. He spoke like he was dealt a really bad hand having to play him. Like he had just been told Pete from division six Sunday side Red Lion was coming in as his new midfielder.
Now I have a real problem with the interview for one reason. Player development and duty of care. Imagine what that has done to Barkley! Imagine what his mind set is in the days after? So what does this have to do with Checkatrade? Well for starters we have a manager to be proud of. And if Conte at the top thinks that this is acceptable ,what happens lower down? I tweeted earlier this week about my disgust for Conte and admiration for Cowley. Would you ever hear Danny talk that way? No ... No way would the King of Sincil Bank allow that dark and detrimental mind set to creep it's way in. Danny and Nicky have their priorities straight and that priority of a good mind set is what makes Lincoln City FC great contenders to reach Wembley. It's what wins us games.
Not only could we reach Wembley but we could win . So let's be positive, just like Danny and Nicky. Let's go into the game with a positive mind set, get behind the team and sing loud and proud. #UTMI
By L.I.S.A Committee
First to say, we wish everyone a very happy new year and here’s hoping for another year as successful as the last for Lincoln City FC! It has been a busy start to 2018 as we put plans in place for various projects. We have just launched tickets for our latest L.I.S.A Spring Night event on Friday 16th March which is a sponsored event.
Late last year we were contacted by Bluebird Care who much to our delight and gratitude offered us help with sponsorship of a future event. We are immensely grateful that Bluebird Care have been so supportive of L.I.S.A and we are able to pass this goodwill and offer of support directly to fellow Imps for the forthcoming get together.
We expect ticket demand to be high (they are already selling) so please don’t miss out. This is a L.I.S.A event open to all, indeed we would like to invite new people to attend so please ask friends and family and spread the word, there will be a good mix of ladies and gents. We are thankful for being hosted by Ruston Sports and Social, the venue provides a dance floor for the more energetic amongst you! Punch the Monkey are a really popular Lincoln band so it promises to be a brilliant night on Grimsby Town Eve! The normal Lincoln City related theme will be apparent.
Tickets including a fish and chip basket meal are priced at just £6 (yes, that’s right, 6 quid!) for members and only £10 for those that aren’t. You are able to become a L.I.S.A member before the event to take advantage of the lower price and benefit from discount at future events if you wish - tickets are available on the events page, link below.
The club are being proactive in encouraging support and togetherness from all fans old and new. L.I.S.A will do all it can to support both this ideal and fellow supporters / fan groups for the common good of the club with joint projects already in discussion for the future.
Best wishes to you all and up the Imps
By Maria Horner
One of the joys of football is the build up to a game, the comparisons of recent performances, stats, historic rivalries and of course personalities.
In FGR’s Mark Cooper we have the perfect villain from a perfect villain castle - albeit one grown from parsnips in a forest of broccoli.
As with any clash between sides it’s the differences they exploit in order to goad, undermine and berate the ‘enemy’ to wage psychological warfare on the army; to take the emotional upper hand before battle on the field.
Like the pre-match boxing weigh-in, the preamble between football fans and the respective managers is exaggerated, a lot of pomp and ceremony and fist waving. It’s all part of the refined dance to ensure everything is set for the right amount of tension at kick off.
So FGR’s eco-vegan credentials which in the outside world are all very commendable and outwardly good (as long as no one is forced to eat a vegetable hot dog in a gluten free roll, unless of course you enjoy such fare - fair play) but it does give meat to the stew for the opposition cat calls.
So we had Mark Copper ‘the cad’,
flapping his cape in indignation, who hasn’t failed to delight Imps fans with his comments about the club and our princely Danny and Nicky ( both obviously the most newly eligible managers to grace the kingdom of football).
So the stage was set and the triumph of Rhead’s first goal set off our second weapon of mass destruction; the sound wall of noise from the Co-op stand hurtling towards Cooper’s lair. It was followed by the crushing bellows of ‘You’re getting sacked in the morning (repeat to tune of Guantanamera) well surely that would be enough to force him to melt like the Wicked Witch of the West ? But no !! The beast was yet to deliver his final ‘yelp’as his winged monkey Doidge shot past our hero Vickers.
With the gasping giant vegetable monster yet to be slayed.... up arose our mighty friendly giant again, angered no doubt by the falling over army, he rose through the steaming blades of green to his seven foot magnificent grandeur, all manly thirty stone of him (Ok it’s for effect keep with me ...) and plunged the final dagger into the heart of the fearfully wide eyed mushroom that was FGR.
The villain, stopped in his tracks at the defeat, took his bony fingers and threw his kelp cape around his shoulders and slunk off, while the Cowley Princes and the people cheered and bells rang out in celebration and we hailed our knight in shining armour who is being waved off to fight in the fair kingdom of Norwich.
And as the curtain falls...that’s where it should end, there’s no reason to take any of this off-stage or outside the dressing room door or to the car park...
By L.I.S.A Committee
Since this whole L.I.S.A thing started rolling, none of us ever imagined how we would create such a brilliant way to enhance our own support. It has been a joy to make so many new friends, to see people so happy at our events, to share a pride in our club and embrace all that it has brought to our city and beyond.
It’s amazing how life can change so quickly and there have been many times when we have had to stop, take a breath and thought, “is this really happening?”, it’s not always been easy but my goodness it’s been worthwhile. We have now entered the season of good will to all men (and women) and we have so much to be thankful for.
Just like our logo, football is in our heart and since our beginning we have been able to see just what an incredible difference our club can make to people. The influence and ability that football has to provide positive change extends way beyond 3 points on a match day and we want to promote and support that, we want to try and help our club be the best it can be.
In our excitement for the future it’s important we acknowledge and respect all that has gone before. Our encouragement of female support in no way detracts from the importance of the gents, the diversity of our support is what we believe in, not to take away from it, only to add to it, to join in and see our club flourish and see our stadium full to bursting.
The word “diversity” is feared by some but it should not be, it only threatens those who seek division or do not believe in tolerance and respect for the good of all. If we do what we can in our love for Lincoln City to promote our club and its diverse surroundings it will hopefully help it in becoming more accessible to everyone.
As we move into the New Year we will be working hard to enhance support, bring people together, raise funds for good causes and promote diversity. These will not always be easy tasks but the L.I.S.A loco is rolling and it’s not slowing down just yet. Whatever gender, disability, faith, country of birth or sexual orientation - you should be welcomed and encouraged to Sincil Bank.
In the New Year we are proud to be working with both Imps in the Community and the club to support the “Kick it Out” fixture against Newport County and we will keep you updated of our work on that. We have big events on the horizon and our next L.I.S.A Night in March.
We believe in what we are doing, and we believe in Lincoln City, we think we can make a difference. It might be a big ask but, as someone once said, impossible is only an opinion!
Wishing everyone a very Merry Christmas and a happy new year. Up the Imps.
By Gemma Bell
On a cold and frosty Saturday just a few sleeps from Christmas where else would any manager take her under 10's, Accrington Stanley at home of course, we went for the match day experience! A stadium tour, a spot of food and of course some top coaching with Shane Ring. Shane is as coach who has a philosophy close to mine so it was nice to see my lads in his capable hands and just watch them. David Fox, who heads up development, drafted Shane in from a local grassroots club. His style of coaching is standard of David’s development for all ethos.
I have to say days with my football sons are special but this was only made exceptionally special by the guest appearance of one man. A man who's opinion is truly valued by myself and more importantly my 9 year old. Keen for him to experience the atmosphere of Sincil Bank and using our teams match day experience as bait he took my season ticket and headed for The Millers to meet a friend who happens to be a season ticket holder next to my seat.
A couple of pints later he was escorted to the ground and shown his seat. Looking around it’s clear things have changed at the Bank since he was last there. The last time was March 3rd 2004 in a clash against Mansfield where he remembers very little because of a free bar. He does remember we won and that the ground was a lot less occupied than it is these days, he sat soaking up the atmosphere.
As I looked across the pitch at my boys all out kitted up emotions were high, but standing at the railings of a packed out CoOp stand was a proud Dad and Grandad with his phone out filming his grandson carrying the flag across the pitch in front of over 7500 fans. It’s hard not to feel the club’s passion radiate out in that moment.
By the time we joined the parents and my Dad it was kick off. It’s been a few years since my father and I enjoyed live football together having previously travelled the country together following our Premiership love. Eager to get his take on it I quizzed how he was feeling. “ fair play to Lincoln they have made it a real family club I can’t believe how many families are here “ spot on I’d say... Lincoln is the most family orientated club I have come across along my travels.
I pointed over to upper 7 and the stand was up and rocking . He couldn’t believe the ability and to say they had some struggles in upper 7 on Saturday this tells me a lot. These vocal groups are one of the most important things about match day whether you sing or you don’t, they replaced the old school firms. We have come on a long way from the terraces and that honour that came with being a top firm now comes with being the loudest and most rocking organised vocal group. The 617 are a major part of the match day experience and I feel that while it has become a hot spot for the selfie takers looking to post that picture on social media, we need them. A proud moment I’m sure, that people from all over the ground look to be a part of what the 617 bring, but we must remember that if we step into upper 7 we have a job to do. We have to embrace what the upper 7 is, a vocal area for the loud and bouncy.
So would my Dad come back? Well time will tell. He enjoyed the atmosphere and even some of the football. He wasn’t impressed by the food but he was impressed by the family feel that the club have strived to create. All in all a winning day.
Just what is "walking football"? L.I.S.A Secretary Jackie Atkins had never played football before but after only 2 sessions she is hooked! Exercise, fun and friendships - Here's another example of why football is much more than just a game and all thanks to the fab charity - Imps in the Community;
By Jackie Atkins
What were you doing on 4th October 2017? Don’t remember? No, neither do I, but it seems I ‘liked’ a post on L.I.S.A Facebook page asking if anyone was interested in ladies walking football sessions and the next thing I knew - I was signing up!
I have watched football for many years with hubby Keith; and about 8 months ago got hooked into the IMPvasion and discovered that I really enjoyed attending live matches (especially at lower league level where there is far less theatrics than in the Premier League!). However, that being said - I have never played a game so what on earth was I doing writing a comment in response to Katrina Hall’s post of 4th November advertising the start of Ladies Walking Football; that went something along the lines of “Going to give it a go”!!
Too late - the deed was done and not one to renege on my commitments - on 25th November I arrived at Sincil Bank donned in jogging bottoms and several warm layers (it was a VERY cold morning) - and 5 keen but clearly nervous ladies walked onto the astro turf in readiness for our first kick about.
None of us knew anything about the rules and regulations of walking football - we were all newcomers and all (I found out) - equally anxious and excited about what we were undertaking. We started by acquainting ourselves with the rules. We were happy with the line stating there was no off side rule; that sliding was not allowed and that no running was permitted - but what constitutes running? Apparently, as long as one foot remains on the ground - it's not running.
We started by getting to grips with passing the ball using the side of our foot and dribbling around a cone. Once ‘perfected’ we moved on to passing the ball to another person with the aim of them taking a shot at goal - easier said than done. Our first attempts were not the best, but as with all new undertakings - we gradually got more confident in what we were doing and even managed to knock all the cones in the goal mouth down. By now, we were chatting and laughing together and thoroughly enjoying the experience - new friendships were being formed and initial anxieties were dispelled.
It was then that our boys arrived for the game against Port Vale. The Cowley's were their usual charming selves and happily signed autographs and chatted to fans. I’m sure they also noticed our little kick about going on and were perhaps eyeing up their next signings :-)
Katrina (our very able coach) produced the dreaded bibs and we split into two teams for our first ‘game’. You would think that a group of women who had just met would be friendly and polite - NO - we were committed to winning and our ‘walking’ became distinctly faster as the game progressed (and I actually think some of us might have broken into a jog……….).
At the end of the session, we agreed that we had thoroughly enjoyed it and were definitely returning the following week. We did, along with another 5 ladies (doubling the first session attendance) which is amazing. Once again we warmed up, practiced our passing skills and had a game - much more challenging than the first week and more competitive but still as enjoyable.
Most of the ladies attending are on the L.I.S.A Facebook page so have been brought together through this group - how fabulous is that! Would we have found ourselves playing walking footie had it not been for L.I.S.A - probably not. We are still looking for more ladies to join us - it is a fun way to get some exercise and make new friends. All ages are welcome. First session is free, so there’s nothing to lose. Who knows - we might one day even find ourselves picking up a trophy of our own :-)
The smiles say it all, why not join them :-)