Celebrating Alf Charles as Part of Black History Month
Celebrating Alf Charles as Part of Black History Month
A plaque has been unveiled and a new anti-discrimination animation video has been launched
This October 2021, Hampshire FA is involved in the unveiling of a new plaque commemorating Alf Charles, the first black footballer for Southampton FC.
Alf Charles was born 1909 in Trinidad. Having played football in Trinidad, he then travelled to the UK working as a Valet for the West Indies Cricket Team. In January 1937, he was signed by Southampton FC; their first ever black player and one of the first professional players in football as a whole, at a time where there was little black representation across the sport.
Alf Charles, along with other black players in the game at the time, paved the way for other black players to follow in their footsteps and increase the representation of black people playing football at all levels, from grassroots right up to the professional form of the game.
Today, 21st October 2021, as part of Black History Month, Hampshire FA joined Black History Month Southampton, Southampton FC and other local stakeholders at The Stage Door, Southampton to celebrate the important contribution that Alf Charles made. Hampshire FA’s Chairman, James Pearson, spoke as part of a presentation celebrating Alf Charles and introducing Hampshire FA’s current work in the fight against racism and wider discrimination.
The pinnacle of the celebrations saw the unveiling of a new ‘Black Plaque’, ensuring that Alf Charles’ legacy can be seen by all in the local community for years to come. This will now remain as a landmark of Southampton’s black history, joining other notable figures, including Bob Marley, Craig David and Muhammad Ali, who all have their contributions to Southampton’s black history memorialised by a ‘Black Plaque’ in the city. Alf Charles is also specifically commemorated by Southampton FC with a plaque that was installed at St Mary’s Stadium in 2020 (more info here).
As another mark of Alf Charles’ legacy, he has been created in superhero form as the focus of a new anti-racism animation that will now feature across Hampshire FA and other local organisations content as an informational tool for everyone across local football. The animation premiered at the celebration held at The Stage Door today and can now be viewed on the Hampshire FA YouTube channel. It’s hoped that this new animation, along with various other anti-discrimination projects and actions taking place at Hampshire FA, can help make football a more inclusive environment for all.
Discussing Hampshire FA’s involvement in the celebrations, Hampshire FA Chairman, Jim Pearson, said: “I’d like to extend my thanks to Don John, Black History Month Southampton and animator, Jasmine Greenfield, for the organisation of today’s event and the production of the fantastic animation that has been launched. I would also like to thank the members of our Positive Change in Local Football Group in Southampton for their invaluable input into this project. It’s been a pleasure to contribute to this brilliant celebration; a great way to mark the contributions of Alf Charles and the wider cohort of footballers and important figures who have played their part in Hampshire’s black history. These individuals have been pioneers, inspiring future generations and helping to drive football to the point we’re at today. We, at Hampshire FA, look forward to encouraging continued progression towards diversity and inclusion across our national sport for the future.”
Hampshire FA Football Development Manager, Chris Smith, added: “We’re aware that sadly discriminatory incidents are still occurring within our community and we’re excited to be able to promote the new Alf Charles animation to the grassroots football community as an informational tool to help recognise and report incidents of discrimination. Alongside the animation we are rolling out a text message service for immediate reporting of discrimination across our football hubs and have worked with Kick It Out to train our site teams to deal with incidents whilst prioritising victim wellbeing. Equality, Diversity and Inclusion sits at the heart of Hampshire FA’s 2021-24 strategy and we are currently recruiting a Community Engagement and Inclusion Officer to enhance our understanding of wider community issues and make football for accessible for all.”
Some of the recent projects and measures that are being implemented and enforced on an ongoing basis by Hampshire FA to fight against all forms of discrimination, and encourage an inclusive environment for ALL include...
Following consultation with Hampshire FA’s various working groups across the county, it was found that our local communities wanted an easier and simpler way to report discrimination incidents. As a result, a new Hampshire FA Anti-Discrimination Textline has been established. This new initiative allows users at certain grassroots football facilities can report any discrimination incidents via text, with the option for on-the-ground support ‘there and then’, or, follow up support within 72 hours.
The service has been piloted at Stoneham Lane Football Complex since September 2021 and is soon to be introduced at Front Lawn Community Hub and Winklebury Football Complex, with a view to potentially extend this to other football facilities across the county in the future.
Hampshire FA is currently accepting applications for a new Community Engagement & Inclusion Officer. This will be the first time that the County FA will have a full-time member of staff specifically dedicated to the improvement of inclusion.
The Hampshire FA IAG continues to guide Hampshire FA in providing services that focus on engaging all communities, which embed positive interventions to address any gaps in provision, employ effective processes to deal with complaints, and demonstrate diverse representation across its structures that reflect the local football population.
In early 2021, Hampshire FA produced a new Equality Policy, approved by the Hampshire FA Board and Hampshire FA IAG. This represents a clear commitment to equality; a strong foundation for all of our work towards diversity and inclusion in football.
Hampshire FA is an equal opportunities employer and actively encourages people from diverse backgrounds to apply for all roles. After a review, we are taking a number of steps to diversify our workforce through more inclusive recruitment practice.
Steps taken include, but are not limited to:
Reviewing the language used within adverts and role descriptions (gender decoder, consultation with IAG and associated reference groups)
Using application forms (in place of CVs/Covering Letters) and anonymous shortlisting to mitigate unconscious bias
Making all documents, including application forms, available in a variety of formats
Anonymously monitoring the diversity of the application pool for each role
Broadening our advertising and promotion network
It’s easier than ever to report discrimination and we actively encourage anyone who sees or hears of instances of discrimination to report it.
Discrimination in any form has no place in football. You can find out more about the reporting process here, or, jump straight to The FA’s online form to report a discrimination incident.
Hampshire FA maintains an excellent record for the tackling of discrimination cases. We investigate every report of discrimination we receive and treat each one seriously, guaranteeing that victims are listened to with confidence.
Discussing Hampshire FA’s current anti-discrimination work, our Football Development Manager, Chris Smith, said: “It’s a really exciting time to be part of Hampshire FA. The wide variety of projects and measures being implemented to improve the inclusivity of football shows that we’re moving in the right direction. We hope that the work we’re doing will help reduce the number of discrimination cases and better support those who witness or are victims of discrimination in the future.”
You can see all information about Hampshire FA’s ongoing work towards diversity and inclusion via the button below: