The Inclusion Strategy Advisory Group (ISAG) is the equality committee, made up of independent members, that sits within the subcommittees of the Norfolk County FA Board.
The aim of the ISAG is to promote and address inclusion and diversity in Norfolk Football. Some of the group’s main responsibilities include sharing good practice, informing and educating staff and volunteers, developing strategies and policies, and increasing football participation within all Norfolk communities. The ISAG works within the Association framework to positively support the Norfolk FA strategy.
Whilst there has been so much positivity to the start of the 2023/24 season, it is felt that certain issues in contrast to this should be addressed. As such, the below message is on behalf of the ISAG, from the group’s Chair, Gabriel Evbota (Gabby) BEM, and unequivocally supported by Norfolk FA.
A message from the Norfolk FA ISAG [Inclusion Strategy Advisory Group]
Much like the National Game, the start to the 23/24 Norfolk Football season has sadly seen an increase in discipline related incidents, including some more recent serious and well-publicised cases.
18.5% of the incidents reported to Norfolk FA so far this season are recorded as aggravated (including a reference, whether express or implied, to any one or more of the following:- ethnic origin, colour, race, nationality, religion or belief, gender, gender reassignment, sexual orientation or disability.). This covers all football in Norfolk. There has also been an increase in negative behaviour from spectators which is concerning.
The Inclusion Strategy Advisory Group at Norfolk County Football Association, would like to express our view that this is unacceptable and reiterate our stance that we completely condemn physical or verbal abuse directed towards any registered match official, or participant, including discriminatory comments made on social media or any other digital platforms.
We find abusive and discriminatory comments, made on or off the pitch, abhorrent. Likewise, physical or verbal abuse towards registered match officials is not acceptable and will not be tolerated within our local game.
The data presenting so far this season is extremely disappointing given our hopes for a more inclusive grassroots game. However, the ISAG will continue to work with Norfolk FA as we strive to reduce and ultimately eradicate abuse and discrimination of any kind within football.
As we enter a new year, we must focus on affecting change and reducing this trend through continuing positive action across Norfolk Football. In addition, in 2024 we will further endeavour to support Norfolk FA in ensuring that any offenders will be dealt with promptly and severely.
As Norfolk FA prepares to launch its new strategy in the summer, planning is already underway to ensure that inclusion and behaviour is at the forefront of thinking when concerning the key objectives for the next strategy period.
We will not discount the strides that have been made in football over recent years, as well as the fantastic work that has been completed to support inclusion locally so far this season alone.
However, we cannot ignore the facts nor evidence that supports an underlying issue within our game. An issue we are committed to challenging head on in 2024.
We hope you have a positive start to the new year, and as the second half of the season kicks off we hope you will join us in the pursuit of making Norfolk Football a better place for all to safely enjoy the beautiful game.