On Thursday, January 15, star Arsenal midfielders of the past and present, Paul Davis and Abou Diaby, were joined by Jim Knight MP, Minister for Schools and Learning, at Show Racism the Red Card’s first educational event of 2009 at Emirates Stadium.
The afternoon saw Paul Davis pick up a Hall of Fame Award for his work with the campaign before he and Abou answered questions on racism posed by some local school children from Islington. Joining Abou and Paul on the panel were other former professional players Bobby Barnes, Gary Bennet and Arsenal’s Brendon Batson, Chelsea Ladies and USA international Lorrie Fair and the comedian Stephen K Amos as well as Islington Council’s Cllr Ruth Polling, Executive Member for Leisure & Equalities.
Prior to the Q&A, the young people representing Montem Primary, St. Andrew’s CE Primary, Hanover and St. Mary’s CE Primary watched the brand new Show Racism the Red Card film. The short film features some of the game’s greatest players such as Thierry Henry, Samuel Eto’o, Lilian Thuram, Ryan Giggs, Rio Ferdinand and Didier Drogba, who talk about their experiences of racism and offer advice on how to deal with, and combat, racism whenever it occurs.
After watching the DVD, Abou Diaby said: “This film is really great at getting the correct messages concerning racism across to all those who watch it; I’ve been given a copy of it to take home and I will watch it again tonight.
"It’s important to speak about racism to children when they are young, like the children who are here today. They need to know what is wrong and right at an early age, but also learn how is best to deal with situations that involve racism. Show Racism the Red Card have done a great job of teaching the children exactly that today and it has been great to come along and lend my support to the campaign."
The SRtRC campaign holds around 40 educational events with football clubs each season, using the high profile of professional footballers to talk to young people about racism, both in sport and society.
Ged Grebby, Show Racism the Red Card’s UK Project Coordinator, said: "Show Racism the Red Card is extremely pleased to begin 2009’s programme of events with football clubs with Arsenal FC. The club have supported the campaign for many years and I know the young people attending will be really looking forward to the day. It will also be an honour to finally induct Paul Davis into our growing Hall of Fame, he has supported the campaign for a long time, attending many events around the UK and taking part in panel discussions. It is a fitting venue for Paul to receive this recognition for his efforts.
"The latest Show Racism the Red Card film that we are screening on the day is the most powerful we have produced and it is our aim to ensure that it will be used in conjunction with its education pack in every school in the UK."