By L.I.S.A Committee
On Monday 4th December we travel to London for the 2017 Football Supporters Federation Awards. L.I.S.A has been nominated for the Fans for Diversity award and is the sole representative in the category from the lower 2 divisions of the football league. It goes without saying that it is a huge privilege for us to be able to attend and we go with great pride in representing a supporters group from Lincoln City FC. When the awards night takes place the focus of the media will inevitably be on the award winners but whoever the award winner might be there is huge value in our inclusion. Our nomination and attendance provide us with an opportunity to meet with other groups keen to encourage a diverse mix of people through the turnstiles. Although the groups themselves represent different communities we are sure that we can learn from our collective experiences. Our fellow nominees are;
Encouraging and representing the interests of LGBT supporters are two London based Premier League groups namely the Proud Lilywhites (Spurs) and Proud and Palace (Crystal Palace). Just this weekend some of you may have noticed the rainbow corner flags at Sincil Bank in support of Stonewall’s Rainbow Laces campaign, raising awareness and tackling homophobia in the game.
Hailing from the West Midlands are two Championship groups encouraging supporters from ethnic minorities and all parts of their communities; namely Blues 4 All (Birmingham City) and Punjabi Wolves Supporters (Wolverhampton Wanderers). It is hugely important that clubs work towards better reflecting their local areas and last year Bradford City’s Bangla Bantams deservedly received the award for their ground-breaking efforts in West Yorkshire.
Last but not least, the Fans Supporting Foodbanks group are doing great work in Merseyside involving the fans of both Everton and Liverpool FC. As their name suggests this group are using the medium of football to encourage fans to help less privileged people in their communities put food on their tables, yet another fantastic cause.
Despite the differences in these groups they, like L.I.S.A, have a joint aim in that they seek to use the enjoyment of football to bring people and communities together. Whether it be to tackle the issues of homophobia, racism, sexism or inequality they are incredibly important causes and we support and congratulate them all. In promoting tolerance, inclusion and respect we look to maximise support for our club. It will only be by recognising the importance of these traits and in working together that we can ensure our football family embraces everyone. Up the Imps.
Yesterday (Saturday 18th) saw a full house at Sincil Bank and what a magnificent sight it was. In a predominantly rural county, gatherings of nearly 10,000 people are a relative rarity and yet here in our fair city we are getting close to 9000 or more every other week. There will be people reading this who probably have an interest in football (even if only a small one) but for whatever reason they are simply unable or perhaps just not motivated enough to make it to games. In 2017 and although not completely eradicated, problems at football are increasingly rare. For 99.9% of people attending, men women and families, games at Lincoln City are for good, decent, honest folk. If you are thinking about it but are unsure in attending a game just message or email us we are here to help and support you along with a huge family of Imps.
In considering the amazing scenes on Saturday it’s fantastic to see people from every imaginable background come together as one; the phrase ‘We are all imps aren’t we!’ springs to mind! The community of Lincoln City is something to celebrate as it grows and evolves for the benefit of the club. When L.I.S.A was formed back in March it looked to encourage more women to games, not to change what was there, just to add to it. It was not done on the basis that women were any more or less deserving but because quite simply it was clear that the diversity of our thriving city wasn’t being properly reflected in our stadium. Some people may think that this isn’t an issue and they are right, it is not an issue, it is actually an opportunity and the club are clearly embracing it.
The concept of L.I.S.A isn’t complicated, it is as simple as bringing people together, not just women but also men and families and it even goes beyond that. One lady recently wrote how her son who is disabled had found enjoyment and enhanced support for the Imps in a safe and friendly environment through L.I.S.A and its events, and he isn’t the only one. When you consider why we do it and why we give up our time the reasons are clear, just this one example makes it incredibly worthwhile. Diversity is not something to be wary of, it doesn’t take away from the great efforts of others that have done good things for many years. The invention of L.I.S.A was to encourage ladies but of course in turn this encourages families. It encourages women bringing other women, women bringing men, men bringing women and a wonderful bonus of now becoming a place to enhance the experience of and encourage fans with disabilities.
It is a difficult path to walk in trying to make our beautiful game more inclusive. There are many examples of groups for fan minorities that are doing great but often difficult work in tackling historic and engrained prejudices. In that context we have been extremely fortunate, not without challenges as we educate our intentions, but we have been welcomed by most, especially by the club. We are now two weeks or so away from the bonkers notion that we are attending a national football awards ceremony held by the FSF in London. We are incredibly proud of the women and men of Lincolnshire and beyond who have helped and supported us. In ‘Stuart Little’ style we head for the capital from sleepy Lincolnshire with no expectation other than to make new friends and be educated further.
In our regular L.I.S.A and day job juggling act we are busy in preparing for a joint Junior Imps / L.I.S.A event for Christmas and a Spring L.I.S.A Night event is already in the planning, more news when we have it. There are other things on the horizon working with the club and other organisations that are on the drawing board but are incredibly exciting, just too early and in planning for us to give firm details yet. In signing off, just to say thank you as always for your support. Just like Lincoln City FC, it means everything to us.
By L.I.S.A Committee
It’s time to reflect on recent events and although it is never plain sailing in our world we have many things to be thankful for. Back on Friday 20th October we held our L.I.S.A Autumn Night event and over 90 Imps were fed and watered plus entertained with a little trivia and by the talented singer Ant MacAndrew. The feedback from the night has been overwhelmingly positive and judging by the strength of singing and enthusiastic dancing on display it was a great success. Seeing so many Imps coming together, enjoying themselves and making new friends makes these nights so worthwhile. The greatest asset of this group are its members both ladies and gents and these events really show that, thank you to everyone who attended, we will just have to do it all again!
In other news the club recently announced the first four Supporter Liaison Officers (SLO’s) and they included L.I.S.A committee members Lindsey Warwick and Heidi Langham. Lindsey is the designated SLO representing females attending the match (whether they are L.I.S.A members or not) but of course she is there to assist all supporters. Heidi has taken on a role unrelated to her L.I.S.A work in being the SLO for those who are disabled or who have disabilities, a subject very close to her heart and us on the committee for that matter. It’s fair to say that both Lindsey and Heidi are incredibly honoured and proud to take on these roles as we are of them and we wish them well. There are two further SLO’s yet to be chosen but we are sure that when all six are in place that the diversity of the club will be well represented.
Yesterday (Tuesday 31st) we received some completely unexpected but brilliant news that L.I.S.A has been nominated for the FSF Fans for Diversity award. We were contacted by FSF campaign manager Anwar Uddin who broke the good news with an awards ceremony due to take place in the capital on 4th December. L.I.S.A is one of six nominated groups and of course we are extremely thankful and excited to have received a nomination for such a prestigious award. We are sure that the other five groups are all extremely deserving and we wish them all the very best and congratulate them on their achievements. The other groups nominated are Punjabi Wolves Supporters, Blue’s 4 all (Birmingham City), Proud Lilywhites (Spurs), Fans Supporting foodbanks (Merseyside) and Proud and Palace (Crystal Palace).
It’s easy to imagine that most of these ideas start out life as a discussion in a living room or in a pub and in our case we have certainly come a long way since that day and in an incredibly short space of time. Our connections to the FSF really make us feel part of a much bigger football family and of course it provides us with opportunities to make new friends at other clubs attended by supporters with just as much pride. There is so much we can do to support Lincoln City and its supporters and our journey has only just begun. When we consider what is possible and what the future might hold we only have to remember, we are imps....