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Norfolk Football comes together to support LGBT Inclusion

Stonewall's Rainbow Laces campaign returns this weekend to support LGBT inclusion in football.

Norfolk Football comes together to support LGBT Inclusion

Stonewall’s Rainbow Laces campaign returns this month and local football is coming together to ensure Norfolk is the county leading the way in support of the initiative this year.

Last season saw plenty going on throughout the county, including the creation of Proud Canaries FC, an LGBT-inclusive team, which has been proudly backed by Aviva and Norwich City.  From the initial recruitment, the squad underwent a series of training sessions - including one with Canaries star Christoph Zimmermann - in preparation for the inaugural Proud Canaries Cup held at Carrow Road in May.

Norwich City also displayed their support in their match against Preston North End, which saw rainbow laces, corner flags and captain’s armband.  Aviva supported the club’s celebrations by handing out thousands of rainbow laces to fans in the build-up to the game, and was a key advocate of the campaign, hosting their own internal initiatives 

In addition to the events at Carrow Road, Norfolk FA embedded support throughout the grassroots game, with three feature fixtures taking place around the county, including a Norfolk Junior Cup tie.

This year, Norfolk FA is looking to support more local games than ever before and many are hoping to be involved. Eleven of its fourteen member leagues having confirmed interest in hosting feature fixtures this season, including The Anglian Combination League and the Leathes Prior Veterans League. One of these fixtures is earmarked to be a Norfolk Primary Cup Fourth Round tie, the draw for which was conducted live by Norfolk FA on Monday afternoon with the help of Di Cunningham - organiser of Proud Canaries.

The governing body is also launching competitions for local clubs to win a range of football equipment, as well as tickets to see The Canaries in action at this year’s Rainbow Laces feature game. Aviva and Norwich City will be asking fans to show their support of the campaign once again with rainbow laces being given away to fans ahead of their home game against Rotherham on 1st December.

Finally, support for the campaign this year is not just limited to displays on the pitch, as Workplace Laces hits on Wednesday 28 November.

Aviva, Norwich City and Norfolk FA will join forces once again to spread the word and partners such as The Community Sports Foundation, Active Norfolk, 4Sports and Wensum Print have already confirmed their interest in doing the same; as staff step out in support and show off their laces in the workplace.

With Norfolk FA, Norwich City & Aviva collaborating, and with support from The FA and Stonewall, it’s expected that more of Norfolk’s football players, coaches, referees, volunteers and fans will be involved in the campaign than ever before.

Norfolk FA Inclusion Officer, Rachel Cossey said: “It is great to have a consortium of high-profile organisations working together to promote the Rainbow Laces campaign in Norfolk. The Workplace Laces day also allows more individuals to get involved in showing their support, but this time off of the pitch.”

Head of Talent Acquisition & Inclusion at Aviva, Jonny Briggs said: “Aviva is proud to once again fully support this year’s Rainbow Laces campaign. We believe it is vital in sport, as it is in business, that diversity and inclusivity is supported and celebrated. We stand side by side with Stonewall, Norwich City and Norfolk FA to help make sport everyone’s game.”

Norwich City’s Chief Operating Officer Ben Kensell said: “This is a campaign we’ve supported for a number of seasons, as inclusivity and diversity are vitally important to us, and we’re delighted once again to take part in this vibrant initiative with our partners and friends at Aviva, Community Sports Foundation, Proud Canaries and Norfolk FA.”

For more information about being involved in this year's campaign, please contact our Football Development Officer (Inclusion) Rachel Cossey via Rachel.Cossey@NorfolkFA.com.