Kick It Out is delighted to confirm that Roisin Wood, the organisation’s Chief Executive Officer (CEO), has been appointed OBE in the Queen’s Birthday Honours list for services to tackling discrimination in football.

Roisin joined Kick It Out as CEO in 2011 and has been pivotal in managing and leading the organisation’s equality work and fostering a more inclusive, cohesive environment in English football, as well as in communities across the country.

The organisation has responded to the demands for action and expanded its work out of necessity during her 7 years in charge – by August 2018, 17 permanent staff will be employed by football’s equality and inclusion organisation, which had just five when she joined.

Reflecting on the news, Roisin was eager to emphasise that the OBE was a recognition of the work that Kick It Out had achieved over the last 25 years.

“I am incredibly proud to be a part of Kick It Out, which has been driving forward the equality agenda since 1993 and has played a vital role in the creating the far more inclusive environment we see in football today. Since I arrived in 2011, I have worked with so many fantastic staff members, trustees, volunteers, partners and members of the public, who are absolutely vital in what we do.”

Never one to rest on her laurels, Roisin believes the announcement merely serves as motivation to take Kick It Out’s equality work even further as the organisation moves into its 25th anniversary season.

“I’m honoured to be appointed OBE, but my work for this organisation has never been about awards or recognition – I am here to tackle discrimination in football, to make it a more welcoming place for everyone, regardless of background and to dismantle outdated practices and attitudes that have no place in the game in the 21st century.

“I am excited for the upcoming season, and excited for the years ahead – our work never stops, and the fight for equality in football has a long way to go yet.”

Lord Herman Ouseley, Kick It Out’s Chair, welcomed the news: “This honour is recognition of Roisin’s exceptional work for equality and inclusion in football. It is truly merited and deserved.

“Everyone associated with Kick It Out will rejoice in this award because she is not only a formidable leader of people but is respected for her exceptional partnership-building qualities at both grassroots and elite levels of the sport.”

He continued: “Roisin has also demonstrated, unequivocally, the qualities and talent of women in leadership positions, and particularly so in the world of sport. She is truly a role model, as many of the young people she mentors would testify, and she will use this honour to galvanise and inspire all those engaged in the pursuit of equality, inclusion and cohesion in football in England and beyond.”

Key projects and initiatives created under Roisin’s leadership which, among many others, have played a significant role in transforming the landscape of football, include:

  • Kick It Out’s work as a reporting bureau, which since 2013 has seen the organisation raise thousands of reports of discrimination with the relevant authorities, providing support to victims and monitoring the cases to ensure appropriate action is taken.
  • Kick It Out’s Raise Your Game mentoring programme, which has offered careers advice and mentoring opportunities to thousands of young people hoping to break into the football industry.
  • The Fans For Diversity campaign, run in partnership with the Football Supporters’ Federation, which has provided thousands of pounds of funding to hundreds of events and initiatives that celebrate diversity and facilitate opportunities for underrepresented communities.
  • Equality Inspires, Kick It Out’s educational initiative run with the Premier League which sees the organisation deliver over 100 equality workshops every season to Academy staff, players and their guardians in the top tier of English football.