Wanderers full-back Michael Harriman showed his support for Kick It Out on Thursday as he helped the organisation deliver an equality workshop to Chiltern Way Academy pupils.Michael visited the school in Wendover as part of his involvement in the ‘Next 20’ Ambassador Programme, which sees players across the Premier League, English Football League and The FA Women’s Super League help spread Kick It Out’s messages of equality and inclusion.
Paul Mortimer, Kick It Out’s Professional Players Engagement Manager, led the discussion with the Chiltern Way pupils with topics including how to define discrimination, how best to respond to racism and the difference between ‘banter’ and abuse.
Paul was pleased with the pupils’ focus and believes the workshop had a positive impact on their understanding of discrimination.
“These workshops can have a huge influence on young people because often it’s not something they’ve really discussed before,” he said. “It’s important to make them feel comfortable reflecting on their perception of equality issues and after a tentative start, I thought the boys really engaged with the session.”
Michael, who played an enthusiastic role in helping Paul run the workshop, enjoyed the afternoon and was impressed with the response of the Chiltern Way pupils.
He said: “I think it went very well – the boys contributed a lot and that’s the main thing. Getting the boys actively involved in the session is important and they were happy to give their views on key issues. I think they’ll be comfortable now to speak out and act if they hear any discrimination.”
Michael acknowledged the influence he wields as a footballer and recognised how critical it is for people in his position to effect positive change.
“We’ve got that role model status, so if we can help make them better people then that’s the main thing. Even for them just to get some advice and feel like they can talk to us, that’s brilliant. We’re here to educate them and I think they’ve all learned something new today – hopefully it’s a step in the right direction to kick discrimination out of football.”
Paul organised the event alongside Wycombe Wanderers’ Sports and Education Trust (SET) and he praised their commitment to tackling discrimination.
“It’s vital for Kick It Out to work collaboratively throughout football – whether it’s with clubs, community trusts, supporters, players or otherwise – so I’m really pleased Wycombe Wanderers SET were able to support us in setting up the event. I look forward to continuing our work with Michael and the club!”