Wycombe Wanderers defender Joe Jacobson joined Kick It Out to deliver an educational workshop for pupils Chiltern Way Academy on Thursday 16th November.
The workshop, led by Paul Mortimer, Kick It Out’s Professional Players Engagement Manager, engaged the pupils around key issues such as diversity, discrimination and celebrating difference, as they were encouraged to ask challenging questions and address their own misconceptions.
For Jacobson, supporting Kick It Out at the event was an important cause, particularly as education is a cornerstone of the organisation’s mission to tackle discrimination.
"I think people need to be educated in what Kick It Out do,” he said. “I think there's still racism, antisemitism, sexism and other discrimination in football and Kick It Out are there to educate people not just in the game, but also in schools as well.
"I think (considering) how young people are brought up, what they read or watch in the media has an influence on them, so we need to be able to tell these students what's appropriate and what's not, and how to deal with that."
Jacobson is Jewish himself, and was able to reflect on his experience of faith and football with the group, in particular discussing the negative impact that the use of the Y-word can have.
The pupils responded well to the discussion and were keen to learn more about subjects such as discrimination, engaging in an honest debate about what language is acceptable and what is offensive.
Kick It Out’s Mortimer, who is a former Charlton and Aston Villa winger, emphasised the importance of education when it comes to tackling discrimination on and off the pitch.
He said: "It's important for us to work out what young people understand discrimination to be, listening to their experiences, and assist them in improving their awareness of reporting. We help them to better recognise incidents that are discriminatory, and understand their own behaviour and the impact it may have on people in their environment."
Reflecting on the afternoon, Murtaza, a Chiltern Way Academy pupil who took part in the session, said: "I enjoyed learning about how footballers experience racism and discrimination during matches, and what I learned here I could use in the real world as well."
The event was organised in partnership between Wycombe Wanderers Sports & Education Trust, the charitable arm of Wycombe Wanderers FC, and Kick It Out who have worked together to tackle the issue of racism for a number of years via the delivery of initiatives such as this.
Following the event, Paul Foley - Head of the Sports & Education Trust - said: “Wycombe Wanderers are a club that are fully committed to being of benefit to our community and working with organisations such as Kick It Out allows us to increase our positive offering in local schools.
“The session allowed the children who attended the opportunity to have an open and honest discussion around the sensitive issue of discrimination and will hopefully have helped create more inclusive attitudes amongst them. A big thanks should also go to Joe Jacobson for giving up his time to join in and add further weight to the messages being conveyed.”