Scotland’s leading anti-sectarian charity, Nil By Mouth, has been delivering workshops to the next generation of coaches at Ayrshire College’s Townholm campus, in order to provide them with the insights, techniques and strategies they will need in the workplace.
Although not all sectarian offences are linked to sport, many people associate sectarianism with football, particularly Celtic and Rangers.
Dave Scott, campaign director for Nil By Mouth, spoke with groups of Sports Coaching and Development students to help them understand what sectarianism is and the consequences it has on society.
He stressed how important it was for them to know how to deal with difficult situations once they are in coaching jobs.
Nil By Mouth was established in 1999 and has long called for a nationwide rehabilitation programme for people convicted of sectarian offences.
After showing the groups real examples of sectarian abuse from regular members of the public on social media networks, the message was clear – it takes five seconds to send a sectarian tweet that could end with five years in prison.
Campaign director Dave Scott said “We’ve worked at a number of Ayrshire College campuses and the reception has been fantastic. People have been very welcoming and they’ve talked about it in a serious manner, there’s been no attempt to pretend it doesn’t exist, and we’ve been very encouraged by what we’ve seen.”
“Since 2003 we’ve had about 7,000 people arrested for sectarianism in Scotland – so on average there’s someone arrested every 12 hours for it. While it’s not the biggest issue we have to face in society, it is clearly a problem, and something we have to keep looking to challenge through education in particular.
“So we’re hoping within the next generation we’ll eradicate sectarianism in Scotland. We feel it’s on the way out – it just needs a nice helpful kick out the door to see it on its way.”
When asked if sectarianism is a bigger problem in the west of Scotland compared to other parts of the country, Dave said “There are hotspots. Certainly the problem’s at its most vivid in the west of Scotland and most people recognise this, so we devote a lot of our time to it.
“But there have been arrests in all 32 council areas across Scotland, so it would be naïve to think attitudes just stop at a council or town boundary.”
*This article first appeared on the Ayrshire College Website