Former professional footballer Anwar Uddin is someone who knows his way around the game. Beginning his football career at West Ham United he went on to play for teams to include Sheffield Wednesday, Bristol Rovers and Dagenham & Redbridge. Anwar became the first British Asian to captain a football league team and it was at the Daggers that he captained them to victory in the 2010 League 2 Play off final at Wembley.
With his professional playing days now behind him Anwar Uddin remains immersed in the football world and works as Diversity and Campaigns Manager for the Football Supporters Federation. His noble mission is to help bring football to all irrespective of gender, disability, race, faith or sexual orientation. The FSF is an organisation backed by no less than half a million members, which along with Anwar’s dedication and hard work is thankfully enabling him to make a real difference.
During the summer Anwar became aware (via L.I.S.A member Gemma Bell) of our existence and a few weeks later we met up. It was much to our surprise on that day that we learnt from Anwar that L.I.S.A was the first group encouraging ladies supporting a male football team to be set up in England and Wales. Our unique existence and subsequent support of the FSF and Anwar helped greatly in many aspects of our development. From our first event to the funding for this website, the help of the FSF has been invaluable. Although L.I.S.A is still very much a youngster just this week Anwar reflected and updated us on how L.I.S.A was becoming known to people outside of our fine county;
“My role as lead on the FSF Fans for Diversity campaign in partnership with Kick it Out gets me all over the country working with clubs from the very top to the lower levels of the pyramid. Clubs are always looking at new and exciting ways to stand out and be more inclusive. It’s been so refreshing for me to use L.I.S.A as a great example of best practice which has made the group the envy of the football league. So many clubs have said they would love their very own L.I.S.A which I would encourage”.
The words of Anwar are incredibly uplifting for a new group such as ours but we are conscious that we are just one small cog in the Lincoln machine and certainly no more valuable nor important than any other. While we are excited about our future we respect the fact that for many years supporters and supporter groups have been working hard for our club through thick and thin. Many of the people who paid out £5 to become a L.I.S.A members are indeed themselves lifelong Imps.
Our clubs phenomenal support which may well now be the envy of League 2 is all the better because of groups such as the 617 Squadron. When combined with the years of fund raising efforts by the Red Imps Community Trust and indeed the efforts of individual fans we have many assets however different that we should be proud of. With the Junior Imps scheme being widely admired and the fantastic efforts of the Imps in the Community charity the club is far more than a match day experience. In response to what makes groups such as those at Lincoln work, Anwar said;
“The magic in anything in my opinion is the people within and the individuals that drive any group.”
It seems apt to consider the excellent work of lifelong Imp Gary Hutchinson which can be more recently found in a new magazine. If we and our club are to be a real success maybe the answer is in the magazines title.
Long may Lincoln City flourish and long may L.I.S.A exist and add it’s support to a City United.