Building on the relationships established between the Club, LOFT and the Community Sports Programme over the last year, the home game against AFC Bournemouth on the 19th October saw the second Kick It Out day of action at Brisbane Road.
Leyton Orient Community Sports Programme contacted children from local Norlington School, who paraded an Anti-Racism banner around the pitch before the match and again at half time. The Club ensured that players were issued with Kick It Out T-shirts to warm up in, which many did, and were also kind enough to make several players available (including Matthew Joseph, Donny Barnard and Simon Downer) for a visit to Barking College to launch National Black History Month. Finally, several LOFT members were on hand before the match to distribute Kick It Out badges and stickers on the turnstiles, and we were greeted warmly by the vast majority of fans as they entered the ground.
This warm reception was very heartening to all involved. While it is not possible to be completely comfortable when a tiny minority of Orient 'supporters' persist in abusive and threatening behaviour, it is recognised that Leyton Orient have an excellent history and track record of anti-racism, one which we are all very proud of and are keen to keep.
Anti-racism work has been one of LOFT's most important ongoing projects since we launched, as we are convinced that it is in the interests of all involved to improve links between football clubs and their local communities of all ethnic origins. One of the many positive things to emerge from LOFT and LOFC's recent work at student freshers' fairs was plenty of evidence to debunk the myth that 'Asians don't like football'.
Another success for LOFT since this time last year was to persuade Barry Hearn that an 'O's against Racism' hoarding would re-inforce the club's commitment to eradicating racism at Leyton Orient. The banner now resides in the north-east corner of the ground.
Leyton Orient's involvement in Kick It Out week will end this Saturday at Bristol Rovers, where the players will again run out to warm up in KIO T-shirts, but the Club and LOFT's work to combat discrimination in all its forms continues all year round. You can keep up-to-date with our work on the website and through the fanzines.
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