Inclusion Advisory Group
Making football more inclusive and accessible
The Inclusion Advisory Group (IAG) is an independent body within Hampshire FA whose purpose is to make football inclusive and welcoming for all communities within Hampshire, the Isle of Wight, and Bournemouth.
WHAT DOES THE IAG DO?
The IAG, Hampshire FA’s Independent Body, has been actively working towards making football more inclusive, welcoming, accessible, and representative within the County. The IAG was established eight years ago, and its main priorities are to:
- Provide objective feedback to Hampshire FA’s workforce & directors and challenge us to excel in Equality, Diversity, and Inclusion (EDI)
- Develop inclusive strategies and culture that benefit Hampshire FA’s football community.
- Work with Hampshire FA to engage our local communities and help us understand local needs.
The Inclusion Advisory Group, the Board of Directors and the Operational Plan team are responsible for monitoring and reviewing progress towards this Equality Action Plan. Specifically, the IAG is responsible for monitoring the Key Milestones & Success Criteria (KMSC) at the end of each football season. This yearly review allows the IAG to update progress against the Equality Action Plan, highlight potential gaps, and offer input for refining KMSC for the following season.
Through their dedication and collaborative efforts, the Inclusion Advisory Group plays a pivotal role in making Hampshire FA’s football community truly inclusive and welcoming to all, leaving a positive and lasting impact on the football community in the county.
THE IAG MEMBERS
The IAG is comprised of local stakeholders who are deeply passionate about football, community engagement, and Equality, Diversity & Inclusion (EDI). The IAG’s membership rotates every three years, ensuring fresh perspectives and sustained commitment to EDI. Current members include:
Melanie Robinson CBE (Independent Chair)
I am a senior officer in the Royal Navy. My rigorous training from a 30-year career has been the cornerstone for my hunger and passion for developing and supporting others. My successes include being the first female to command a Royal Navy warship. As a Commander of the UK’s Maritime Reserves, I was the first female to command a Fighting Arm of the Royal Navy.
As a trailblazer for women in the Royal Navy, I have been a strong advocate for Gender and Underrepresented Groups throughout my career. As a straight Ally for the Royal Navy’s LGBTQIA Network, and Senior Ally for the Royal Navy’s Commonwealth Network, my EDI interests are in Allyship, Mentoring and online Networks as effective means of making a difference. I was named DIVA Magazine’s Corporate Ally of the Year in 2023 and was listed in the Guardian’s Pride Power List 2023 for Contribution to EDI in the Maritime Reserves.
Natalie Welch (Vice-Chair of the IAG)
Role/Organisation: Co-Founder of The Typeface Group
I joined the IAG after being approached by a member of Hampshire FA, and given the opportunity to become a member of the group. Inclusion is a huge passion of mine and I champion it wherever I can, challenging narratives that are typically patriarchal, white and cis-heterosexual. I have a love of continued learning which I do through my role as a business owner, and off my own back as someone that just wants a nicer society for all to thrive and have equality. I have been part of the IAG, since 2017/18, and vice-chair since 2019/20 season.
Experience in delivering courses and readings in anti-racism, Workplace training for LGBTQIA+ community, advocating for Deaf Awareness (as a person that is part of that community) and currently learning a lot more about neurodiversity.
Rob Pearce (IAG Member)
- Diversity and Inclusion Manager – Southampton Football Club
- I have been involved in the IAG since 2021 and have a real passion in ensuring people from underrepresented group have the same experience as those from more privileged backgrounds.
- Robert Pearce has been working for Southampton Football Club since 2015, initially working for the Clubs’ Charity, Saints Foundation, developing and delivering projects that support underrepresented groups to engage in a range of activities. In August 2021, Robert started his position as Diversity and Inclusion manager and has gone on to reignite the Club strategy and direction, through a data lead and people first approach.
Alex Marshall (IAG Member & Independent Director of Hampshire FA)
Founder and Director of Spot The Gap
- I joined the IAG at the end of 2019 and just before the start of the pandemic. I joined after a chance meeting on Twitter with Hampshire FA’s then Women & Girl’s Football Development Officer, Flo Lunn. We got tweeting about ways in which women and girls could be better encouraged to get involved in football, as this is something that is a big passion of mine, after working for Women in Sport. This snowballed and a couple of face-to-face meetings later I was asked to join the Hampshire FA IAG to share my professional skills and knowledge to support the group. I now sit on the group as a Board representative, as I am now an Independent Board Director for Hampshire FA.
I work as an inclusion specialist in my professional life, which incorporates a number of general EDI areas including strategy development, training and coaching. My passion areas are gender equality in sport, female leadership in business, and inclusion of non-parents in the workplace and society. I am a disability ally - I have lived experience of chronic illness and two of my close family members are disabled and I have been an unpaid family carer for a number of years.
Role: Representative of the IAG on Hampshire FA’s Football Management Board
Tunde has worked for many years on the global stage of football, first as a member of the inaugural FIFA Fair Play Committee in 1997, which kickstarted the clamouring for diversity and inclusion in the way the game was run. Tunde was a consultant on International Relations for the Football Association and a Campaign Manager in charge of Africa in England’s bid to host the 2018 World Cup. Tunde is also the First Assistant and Head of Scouting Operations of the Benin National Football team and served as First Assistant of Nigeria’s National Football team from 2016 to 2022.
EDI interests: Tunde is a diversity advocate and the founder of the Diversity in Football Alliance. Tunde champions anti-racism in football by offering support network to football players through the Football 11-11 Foundation. Outside of football, he is also the Chair of the Basingstoke Rotary Club and leads their work on Equality, Diversity and Inclusion.
Role: Hampshire FA Board Director
Chair of Hampshire County Womens Football League
President of Hampshire Girls Youth Football League
Director responsible for the Female Pathway Focus Group
Competitions Committee Member
I was appointed by the Chair of Hampshire FA as the Board Member responsible for the IAG, in 2019. Responsibilities included reporting on IAG meetings at Board Meetings, ensuring that finance issues were addressed and assisting in the progress and development of the group. Board members get moved to different committee's and Focus groups periodically and another Board member replaced me in 2022. I applied to stay on as a Committee member as I was interested in the work this committee were doing and hoped I could still be of some benefit to the progress we were making.
Expertise and Interests:
Women's and Girl's Football, Walking Football. I started playing Womens football in 1966 at the age of 13, for a village team called North Warnborough Belles, when there were no girls youth teams. I quickly learned that Womens football was not going to be an easy ride, not because of the ability of players but for the non-acceptance by so many people. There was no encouragement from schools and a definite discrimination when it came to all aspects of the game including facilities, referees, media etc. These were just the practical challenges but even into the 90's, the sexist remarks like 'shouldn't you be at home doing the ironing' and 'do you swap shirts at the end' were evident. I continued playing, eventually signing for Southampton Women in 1979 where I won the FA Cup in 1981 and the Home Counties League several times (Football at this time was not recognised by the FA so no National Divisions) In 1986 Southampton sadly disbanded because of the lack of any youth structure so joined Red Star Southampton and continued playing until I was 39. I was then asked to become Manager and did my coaching badges in 1993/4. Even though the female game had more participants now, it was evident that women in coaching roles was very rare with me being the only female, along with 28 men, on the FA level 2 course.
I went on to manage Southampton Saints where we achieved promotions to the FA National Division and runners up to Arsenal in the FA Cup. 2002 moved on to become Manager of Portsmouth where we had great success in gaining promotion to the FA National Division. Decided in 2013 that there were too many cold rainy nights at training so retired for managing to sit in the comfort and warmth of committee rooms!
At the age of 63 I took up mixed Walking Football, as again, there were insufficient women to form a female only team. Progress in this however has been so much better and now play for Eastleigh Womens Walking Football Club in the Hampshire FA Female Walking Football League.
So, I have experienced what inequality Womens and Girls football has gone through to get to where we are today. We still have a way to go to change the mindset of some but as a committee we want to help ensure tit continues in the right direction.
The IAG organises annual community events to engage local groups around EDI.
Our first events were very successful, and we are already working on our next steps. If you’d like to find out more about our events, please read our IAG Roundup article.
If you have any questions about the Friends of the IAG LinkedIn group or would like to attend our future IAG Community events, please contact:
Hampshire FA Community Engagement & Inclusion officer