Friday, July 27th 2018

Airdrie 1, Bigotry 0

Pupils from across Lanarkshire have teamed up with the police and anti-sectarian campaigners to help ‘Kiss Bigotry Goodbye’ once and for all.  
Earlier this month female footballers from six Lanarkshire schools competed for the ‘Kiss Bigotry Goodbye’ Cup at Ravenscraig Sports Centre in conjunction with Police Scotland and charity Nil by Mouth with St Margaret’s HS from Airdrie running out winners.  
Over 70 players took part in the event which aimed to highlight how football can be used as a vehicle for encouraging inclusion and tackling anti-social behaviour.  In addition to showcasing their soccer skills the pupils participated in a special educational workshop which raised awareness of the consequences sectarianism, warned of the dangers of posting online abuse and deepened understanding of different religious cultures and traditions.  
Organisers Police Scotland hope the event will highlight the importance of grassroots education in tackling hate crime in society. Sponsors also got behind the event with North Lanarkshire Leisure, McDonalds and Patterson’s Trophies all donating time, equipment and trophies to ensure the event is a success. In the Final St Margaret’s HS defeated Braidhurst HS to clinch the coveted trophy and more than 100 goals were scored on the day by the teams involved.  
The Kiss Bigotry Goodbye' campaign was launched by Nil by Mouth in 2016 and, since then, thousands 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. Since then it has worked with more than a hundred thousand people in its efforts to tackle bigotry.  
Nil by Mouth Campaign Director, Dave Scott, said: "Our charity was set up by a teenage girl so we are well aware of their ability to change the world for the better. The women’s game in Scotland has grown hugely over the last decade and the event will give some of our brightest young sporting talents a stage to shine on. 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. 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.’ 
Lanarkshire Division Local Policing Commander, Chief Superintendent Roddy Irvine. Said: 
‘This is a great event and was enjoyed by everyone. At Police Scotland we are committed to keeping our communities safe and a key part of that is education. We want to see young people supporting their teams with enthusiasm but without malice. This event gave our young people a chance to understand and celebrate the diversity of the communities they live in. It will also give them an insight into the impact and consequences of acts of sectarianism, whether online or in person. Football should bring people together and I hope that today helps make that happen.’
 For further information contact Dave Scott on 07854210444 
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