The Lady Imps Supporters Association was founded to encourage women to celebrate, share and join in supporting Lincoln City FC, and we do so with the welcome support of fans of any gender, because we all believe football is for everyone and Lincoln City FC has been at the heart of that welcome.
Like many cities Lincoln has changed, grown and is becoming a more multi-cultural place. As a species we are tribal. We like what and who we know. While some find change difficult or worrying, there is a lot to be gained from embracing different experiences, by meeting different people and trying different things.
People ask the big questions about how society tackles the racist and homophobic incidents; like those which blighted Premier League fixtures recently or the biased coverage Raheem Sterling endured. There is no quick fix, but as individuals we can do the small stuff; as simple as wearing a Kick it Out sticker to show you are against discrimination, welcoming those who may be different to you with a smile, supporting projects which bring people together.
Last year L.I.S.A worked with the club, The FSF and Kick it Out to encourage families from the Eastern European community to come and find out more about the club. Around 26 families joined us for a visit to Sincil Bank and prize winners attended the home game against Wycombe.
This year L.I.S.A has forged a positive relationship with the Bangla Bantams of Bradford City AFC with a fan exchange. While the two groups may appear to have very little in common, football brought us together. Uncertainty about what to expect quickly evaporated to bring excited chatter. L.I.S.A ladies toured Valley Parade, we cooked pakoras and alongside the Bantams we paid our respects at the respects at the memorial to those lost in the tragedy of the 1985 fire. We then hosted the group at Sincil Bank. Thanks to the Royal Air Force we also explained about the LCFC fans known as ‘617 Squadron’ and showed them our links to the heritage of the ‘Dambusters’, with visits to the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight and the Red Arrows at RAF Scampton.
Lincoln City Foundation is building relationship with the city’s new mosque. L.I.S.A is also supporting the Kick it Out fixture with the club to invite and host members of both the Sunni and Shia Muslim communities, at this Saturday's match. We want them to see the amazing atmosphere we have at Sincil Bank, to join in and experience how positive football can be.
Words, including those on social media can hurt, we’ve all experienced that from the playground to adulthood. So, when you, or someone you know, is subject to or in earshot of hateful comment or abuse about colour, faith, gender or sexuality, it is upsetting. If you are shouting or chanting, perhaps in indignation at the opposition, and even if you don’t mean the words to be offensive – racist or homophobic abuse cannot be passed off as ‘banter’.
Signing up to the message from Kick it Out and Fans for Diversity is not just about saying you are against racism and all forms of discrimination; it’s about believing it, showing it, living it. The door is open to a better understanding and a more inclusive community of football.