17 June 2016
Pupils from across Lanarkshire have teamed up with the police and anti-sectarian campaigners to help ‘Kiss Bigotry Goodbye’ once and for all.
Female footballers from eight Lanarkshire schools will compete in the first ‘Kiss Bigotry Goodbye’ Cup at Ravenscraig Sports Centre in conjunction with Police Scotland and charity Nil by Mouth.
In addition to showcasing their soccer skills the pupils will take part in educational workshops which will raise awareness of sectarianism, warn of the dangers of posting online abuse and deepen understanding of different religious cultures and traditions. Organisers Police Scotland hope the event will highlight the importance of grassroots education work which builds bridges between communities in tackling hate crime in society. Scottish international footballer Fiona Brown will also be making an appearance to lend her support and encouragement to the players. The schools being represented are: Airdrie Academy, St Aiden’s HS (Wishaw), Duncanrig Secondary School (E.Kilbride), Our Lady’s HS (Cumbernauld), Cardinal Newman HS (Bellshill), Cumbernauld HS, Braidhurst HS (Motherwell), Larkhall Academy
The Kiss Bigotry Goodbye campaign was launched by Nil by Mouth last summer and hundreds of people have taken part in events including quiz nights, school sports activities, penalty kick competitions and online campaigns encouraging fans to post images of what makes them love the game. The charity was set up by Glasgow teenager Cara Henderson in response to the brutal sectarian murder of her school friend Mark Scott as he made his way home from a football match in Glasgow in 1995.
It was also confirmed at the event that Nil by Mouth has being awarded £85,000 by the Scottish Government to run its education packages in workplace, schools, colleges and universities across Scotland during 2016/17.
Nil by Mouth Campaign Director, Dave Scott, said:
“This event is hugely significant as it shows football as a positive vehicle for change and proves the game can bring people together rather than being used as a dividing line between communities. Education is key to challenging prejudice and it’s great to see Police Scotland investing time and effort in grassroots programmes like this which provide a safe and positive environment for pupils to mix.
We have worked with these eights schools over a number of years and we have seen many new friendships form in that time. That is why we are delighted that the Scottish Government have today announced funding that will allow us to continue to build relationships and understanding between people.
In a week where we have seen such darkness and sadness the message we want pupils to take from today is that difference is something to be celebrated, not feared. Our charity was set up by a teenager and we know the potential of young people to change the world.
Scotland is bigger, better and brighter than bigotry and we truly believe that this is the generation which will banish it once and for all.”
Annabelle Ewing, Minister for Community Safety, said:
“I would like to wish all of the competitors in the inaugural Kiss Bigotry Goodbye Cup all the best.
It is an exciting part of a campaign that has brought together so many people to stand up against prejudice and shout about the need for all of us to feel safe and secure in person and online. In learning about the hurt and damage caused by bigotry these young women become part of the solution. The funding we’ve confirmed this week will ensure that Nil by Mouth and the other groups we are supporting will continue to work towards eradicating sectarianism in Scotland.”
Inspector Andy Thomson from Police Scotland said:
“Young people are our future. They are the next generation of Scotland’s decision makers, leaders and ambassadors. Their attitudes determine how they perceive themselves, others and how they themselves are regarded. This event brings together young people from across Lanarkshire to participate in a competition that fuses leisure and learning. Through a blend of football matches and interactive, educational workshops those involved will learn and laugh together. Win, lose or draw they will walk away with a greater knowledge of themselves and others, and we will be one step closer to our ultimate aim; to Kiss Bigotry Goodbye.”