Bristol Rovers chairman Steve Hamer praised a ‘vital’ evening at the club’s Memorial Stadium last week (19 April), as Fans For Diversity hosted a fans forum involving club staff, first-team players, supporters, the local community and representatives from Kick It Out.

Fans For Diversity, which is run in partnership by Kick It Out and the Football Supporters’ Federation, was launched in 2014 with the aim of supporting and funding fan-led activity that celebrates diversity in football.

The evening at Bristol Rovers, which focused on what Rovers can do to improve the diversity of its fanbase and ensure the club is welcoming to all regardless of background, was part of a series of engagement events that the Fans For Diversity campaign has run with professional clubs and supporters groups this season.

Paul Mortimer, Kick It Out’s Professional Players Engagement Manager, hosted a panel discussion with panellists including Hamer alongside Anwar Uddin, Fans For Diversity campaign manager, Rovers first-team players Tom Lockyer and Ellis Harrison, and Adam Tutton, CEO of Bristol Rovers Community Trust, among others.

Speaking after the event, the Rovers chairman hailed the importance of the evening and the work Anwar has done up and down the country.

“It’s vital,” he said. “It’s an enormous evening for educating people about what football is trying to do to eliminate any form of discrimination. Evenings like this, every club should encourage them to happen, to exchange their views and to give their thoughts.

“I’ve learnt a lot tonight and I thought Anwar was very impressive in what he said, and certainly highlighted what he’s done at Bradford City. We will certainly feed off that and work off that and use that as inspiration.  I think it’s been a very enlightening evening, and I think it’s been a remarkable eye opener.”

Anwar was delighted to deliver another Fans For Diversity forum and believes the campaign is succeeding in bringing the full range of the local community closer together with professional clubs.

“It was a brilliant evening full of robust debate and I’m really happy we were able to create a dialogue between the fans and the club. There were plenty of fantastic suggestions from the audience about how the club can build better links with Bristol’s multicultural population, and it was great to see senior Rovers staff in attendance to listen to their ideas.

“Over the past couple years there have been some incidents of discrimination at the Memorial, but I’m encouraged by Rovers’ proactive stance in tackling the issue and I’m looking forward to continuing to work closely with them to promote diversity at the club.”