On Friday (13 April), Bradford City launched the Inclusion Advisory Group (IAG), with an event held at the Northern Commercials Stadium.
Members from several community groups were in attendance, including Bangla Bantams, the Disability Community Foundation, Bradford City Women’s FC, Bradford Council, the Lord Mayor, and Just A Ball Game. Also supporting the launch were Chief Operating Officer, James Mason, and defender Ryan McGowan.
The Inclusion Advisory Group will support and advise Bradford City FC to ensure that they meet their legal obligations, deliver an inclusive offer, and operate in a way that meet the needs of all our supports, partners, and the community within which we serve. The IAG board, made up of several Community Champions from different minority groups, will advise the club on decisions regarding inclusion going forward.
The board consists of official representatives from groups such as Bradford Council, West Yorkshire Police, West Riding County FA, and appointed representatives from fan groups including Bangla Bantams, Just a Ball Game, Bradford City FC Community Foundation, and Bradford City Supporters Board & Trust.
The scheme was introduced by Jaimie Dorward, the club’s Disability Liaison Officer, in an effort to aid Bradford City in making football and the club more accessible for fans of all backgrounds. "The IAG is bringing everyone together to ensure the club and its community are diverse and welcoming to all, the launch today is a clear statement of intent from the club about it's values and expectations for the future. Creating safe places and offering support to attend games for some can be the difference between becoming a life time fan and never watching football at all."
Bradford City are already active in trying to improve relationships and inclusion amongst minority groups, but the group will aim to further improve these. Lindsay England, one of the founding members of the Bradford City LBGT+ fan group, spoke passionately about the importance of the work Bradford City FC have done so far. “Our experiences in the past have highlighted the need for more inclusion in football. Bradford City are one of only two clubs in Europe to proudly fly the LGBT+ rainbow flag on match-days, and there’s something special about this club that you don’t get anywhere else.”
Also in attendance at the launch event was Bradford City defender, Ryan McGowan. Having arrived from Australia, he spoke on how inclusion and community involvement helped him settle into the club and his new home. “Community inclusion is hugely important. Every time I’ve come into Bradford, everyone is so friendly, and it’s been a great help for me settling in. You can tell straight away that Bradford’s a community club that’s involved in all these different programmes, and as the initiatives become more successful, it will really benefit the club and the community.”
The Lord Mayor, Abid Hussain, highlighted how important the club is the Bradford, and how important people are to the club. “We have a great club, and a great stadium, here in Bradford City. But it is the people of Bradford, and the communities, that really work to make this city great.”