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Why the Premier League’s partnership with Stonewall is so vital

The Premier League was founded in February 1992. I was a one year old. 

I navigated my way through British football as the Premier League has grown as an institution, watching it from a very early age.

Since its inception the Premier League has become one of the most exciting and watched domestic leagues in world football. 

I grew up in an area where the only viable examples I saw of being successful and ‘making it out’, was to either become a rapper, or a footballer. 

I grew up in an area where the only viable examples I saw of being successful and ‘making it out’, was to either become a rapper, or a footballer. 

I naturally gravitated toward the latter.

I saw it as a lifeline, a chance to change fortunes for myself and my mother.

I idolised footballers who played in the Premier League, footballers who looked like me and came from the same backgrounds that I had.

In a way, it did change my life, but not in the way that I imagined it would.

It provided me with an escape, from inner turmoil. It provided me with an outlet, a way of expressing emotions I couldn’t quite understand.

When I meet other LGBT people and try to get them involved with football, I am usually met with understandable resistance. This is commonly due to either a negative experience of football in PE, or perceived homophobia in the game. 

For years I struggled to reconcile my sexual identity with my love of the game and the culture that surrounds it.

This never surprises me, as for years I struggled to reconcile my sexual identity with my love of the game and the culture that surrounds it. 

Figures even show that, one in ten LGBT people (10 per cent) who attended a live sporting event in the last year experienced discrimination because of their sexual orientation and/or gender identity.

However, football has demonstrated to me personally, its power to guide people through inner turmoil. Some of my happiest memories are of me either playing or watching the Premier League. 

This is why the Premier League’s partnership with Stonewall is so vital. 

This is why the Premier League’s partnership with Stonewall is so vital. It is important that the LGBT community can look up to the Premier League, not just as leaders, but as partners in the fight for acceptance.

Leaders in sport are often accused of not doing enough to promote positive change. The scale of the Premier League’s ambitions in this field set a powerful example to others in sport of the opportunity to create change by joining their resources and expertise together with Stonewall.

I know from my personal experience just what a difference the Premier League can make and how much impact this additional work on LGBT inclusion is going to have across the football community.

I’m looking forward to working with them to help make - not just football, but all sports - everyone’s game. 

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