A Merseyside football club is calling foul play on discrimination and bringing the beautiful game to players from all walks of life.
City of Liverpool FC Brigade, set up by friends Sean Lindblad and Joe Spencer-Welsh, aims to promote community cohesion and societal inclusion through the popular sport.
The initiative, also known as ‘Football for Everyone’, sets out to give the boot to major issues in today’s society. Many of the players have firsthand experience with problems such as homelessness and the refugee crisis.
Sean told JMU Journalism: “We have always wanted to do something to promote unity and solidarity in this great city, and then we realised that one universal game would enable us to do it- football.
“Our aim is to bring together people from all sorts of walks of life regardless of faith, gender, sexuality, nationality, financial income or any other factor that is so often used to try and segregate us.”
Initially set up as a single 7-a-side game that would take place on a Sunday afternoon, popularity for the sessions has rocketed since their first game 16 weeks ago and now two pitches are required in order to accommodate everyone.
YouTube: Liverpool FC
The Brigade have just played their first 11-a-side friendly against Mersey Marauders, a local LGBT team, as part of the football versus homophobia weekend.
Sean revealed why he thinks the team have had success. He said: “The main thing people comment on is that it is good to play in a game that is chilled and relaxed without having some idiot trying to break your legs at every opportunity.
“But it also gives the players an outlet to play and socialise. As it is free for the unemployed, homeless and refugees, we find players really enjoy being able to come down, have a laugh and play some football along the way.”
Sean hopes to attract women to the Brigade in future and has plans to expand the team through one-day football festivals amongst other ideas. However, he admits that funding could become a major issue.
He added: “We would love to carry on what we are doing but expand our reach to potential players and encourage participation from marginalised members of society, who may be socially isolated or who suffer from prejudice.
“A lot of our future plans hinge on accessing funding as so far we pay for everything out of our own pockets since a lot of the lads have no income. We cover everything and we’ve soon realised it’s a minefield out there in the funding world.”