Football teaches respect01 June 2005

FARE partner, Kick It Out, are to provide a national education conference in the UK, attracting leading educationalists who will highlight how football is helping to deliver key messages in the classroom. The one-day conference will draw upon good practice in the classroom, work taking place to engage school students at football clubs, and encourage debate on the wider use of football as an educational tool to counter racism and promote citizenship.

Speakers with a wealth of experience including former professional footballer and learning mentor, Andy Kiwomya, and one of the UK’s leading authorities on mainstream education in the Muslim community, Mohammed Akram Khan- Cheema OBE, will tell delegates how they are reaching out to young people and encouraging positive change.

Kiwomya has been working with young people on the football pitch and in the classroom, developing self- esteem, expanding horizons and using his life as a positive example. Andy became a community coach and educator following a successful top-level playing career for clubs including Bradford, Barnsley and Sheffield Wednesday in the 1990’s.

His unique approach, which includes using video footage of himself as a player, has been a hit with youngsters in south Yorkshire. Mohammed Ibraham, 13, of Sheffield said of Kiwomya's approach: “It’s not like teachers talking to you. He’s been there, faced all kinds of problems, and he talks a lot of sense.”

Mohammed Khan-Cheema, has over 30 years experience in the British educational system as an educations advisor and senior schools inspector. He has been instrumental in challenging the barriers facing Muslim teachers through community based self-help and voluntary educational initiatives. He has also developed schemes to enable teachers to bring Islam to the classroom and raise awareness of the issues facing young Muslims.

Chair of Kick It Out and former Chairman of the Commission for Racial Equality, Lord Herman Ouseley, will open the conference, joined by invited guest speakers including Ruth Kelly MP, Secretary of State for Education, and David Gill, Chief Executive of Manchester United Football Club.

The conference, sponsored by the National Union of Teachers, will be held on the 14th June at Old Trafford and comes at a time when UK Prime Minister, Tony Blair has pledged to create a “culture of respect” to address growing concerns of anti- social behaviour.

Piara Powar, director of Kick It Out, commented,
“Many people will be unaware of the concerted efforts of those using the appeal of football to make a positive contribution to society. The conference presents a platform to highlight what can be achieved through channelling the power of the game.

Issues such as Islamophobia and anti- semitism are also being addressed through raising experiences in footballing environments as the catalyst for discussion on the deeper underlying reasons for abuse.”