Local fans group picks up national award
A Bradford City supporters group, which aims to encourage greater participation in football from members of the South Asian community, has landed a national award.
Bangla Bantams secured the first ever ‘Fans for Diversity Award’ at the Football Supporters’ Federation Awards held in London earlier this week.
With up to 600 supporters, the fan group has grown rapidly in numbers since setting up in February 2015, with the help of BEAP Community Partnership.
Run in conjunction with the anti-racism group, Kick it Out, and the Football Supporters’ Federation (FSF), it has helped men, women, boys and girls interact with Bradford City Football Club by attending games and community events.
On receiving the award, founder of the group, Humayun Islam – a devout football fan himself – said it was both an honour and a surprise.
“We didn’t expect it all,” he said. “With so many worthy nominations for such a mainstream award, it came as a bit of a surprise to be honest when we were named as the winners.”
He added: “It means so much because the award recognises all the work we have done to increase fan participation, with supporters from all backgrounds taking part in these projects and going to see football games at Bradford City.
“It also recognised that within the Asian community a lot of people do like football but there are more effective ways to properly engage them with their local football club.”
The Bangla Bantams beat competition from five other fans’ groups to clinch the award, with clubs including Derby County and Southampton, represented on the night.
“With the support of the Fans for Diversity initiative, I think we can continue to grow the organisation into a real project for change,” Humayun added.
“We have brought the community together through this project and only have plans to continue the work we have been doing since last year.”
The FSF is the democratic organisation representing the rights of fans and arguing the views of football supporters in England and Wales.
With more than 500,000 supporters, they petition for a host of initiatives including the promotion of safe standing areas in stadiums, lower ticket prices and the protection of clubs.
Members are made up of individual fans and members of local supporters’ organisations throughout the professional structure and many more from further down the football pyramid.