The RFL has launched a new game wide ‘Tackle IT!’ Equality and Diversity programme which aims to increase awareness of issues such as racism, homophobia and other forms of discrimination and prejudice within Rugby League.
The ‘Tackle IT’ campaign features seven promotional posters and a promotional DVD which will be made available to all professional and community clubs in the UK. The campaign sees the RFL become the first UK sports governing body to produce a resource that simultaneously tackles and celebrates all six key equality strands of; race, sexuality, gender, disability, age and religion.
The campaign is fronted by famous names from the sport of Rugby League such as former St Helens and Hull KR star Anthony Sullivan, whose father Clive became the first ever black captain of a British sporting side when he led Great Britain to World Cup glory in 1972, and Sarah Bennison, who became the first female ever to referee a game in the professional ranks in July 2011 when she took charge of Norway versus Germany.
RFL Chairman Richard Lewis said: “We are committed to making Rugby League one of the most open and friendly sports in the UK and the Tackle IT campaign is the latest step aimed at ensuring we can achieve that goal.
“The RFL has worked very hard in recent years to improve our equality programmes and encourage people from all walks of life to get involved with the game and we hope that this latest initiative will continue to boost the successes we have seen over the past few seasons.
“However, the challenge now is for us not to rest on our laurels but to continue working hard at improving our pathways and equality initiatives at all levels.”
The unveiling of ‘Tackle IT’ follows a successful 12-month period for Rugby League that began with the RFL becoming the first sporting organisation ever to enter the Stonewall Top 100 Equality Employers Index in 2011 before rising 40 places to reach 53rd position in the index in January 2012.
Co-operative Championship club Sheffield Eagles broke new ground when they became the first UK sports club ever to wear a strip displaying an anti-homophobia message in March and they were joined by all 14 Super League clubs in signing up to the Government’s Charter Against Homophobia in Sport in April.
Building on this recent success, the RFL is also in the process of developing an educational resource to complement the ‘Tackle IT’ campaign which will be distributed to schools throughout the UK later this year.
“We hope that Tackle IT! will be a thought provoking programme that will encourage and support all those involved in our sport to continue reaching out to diverse communities to ensure Rugby League remains a truly inclusive and welcoming family sport," said RFL Equality and Diversity Manager Sarah Williams.
“The RFL believes that sport can and should lead the way in terms of equality and diversity as sport is about fairness, identifying new talent, enabling everyone to reach their full potential and bringing people and communities together in a shared passion for their sport.
“Education is an essential part of this and is the most important tool for promoting a zero tolerance approach towards discrimination, prejudice and abuse, while also celebrating diversity in Rugby League and in the wider community.”
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