Pupils from across Cumbria descended on Brunton Park on Thursday to take part in an educational event organised by Show Racism the Red Card in partnership with the CUFC Community Sports Trust and the club.
Youngsters from Frizington Community Primary School, Holm Cultram Abbey CofE School, St Cuthberts Catholic Primary School, Petteril Bank Community School and Broughton Moor Primary School came together to take part in workshops exploring racism and stereotypes, and Hate Crime, designed to raise awareness and spark debate and ideas about these serious issues.
And the children were treated to a special surprise to round off the event when first team players Anthony Gerrard, Peter Grant, Callum O’Hare and Regan Slater popped in to say hello and to answer questions about their thoughts and experiences with hate crimes and racism.
CST assistant manager James Tose said: “These events are fantastic and we can’t thank the team from SRtRC enough for coming along.
“The children got to learn about some very serious issues with the tasks they were set and you could tell that the messages had sunk in when they started to question the players later in the day.
“Yet again this was an excellent event and I know all of the schools took a lot away from it from having been involved.”
When asked what he would do if he witnessed any behaviour of a racist nature, midfielder Regan Slater said: “Whether you hear it on the street, in the playground, in school or on the football pitch you have to make it clear that it isn’t acceptable.
“Report it as soon as you can to somebody you trust so that it can be dealt with properly.”
Defender Peter Grant added: “Everybody is equal, no matter what they look like or what they believe. It’s important that we all keep that in mind, and that’s why any incidents of a racist or hateful nature need to be reported.
“If it isn’t reported it just continues, and we can’t allow that.”
Midfielder Callum O’Hare said: “We wouldn’t tolerate it on the football pitch because there’s just no need for it. I’m glad that there’s much more information for people of all ages about how to identify this type of thing and what you do if you are unfortunate enough to witness it.
“I think it will be really difficult to eradicate this type of behaviour completely, but we have to keep trying to do as much as we can.”
Speaking about an incident he’d witnessed first hand, centre back Anthony Gerrard said: “I was in Cardiff with a good friend of mine called Solomon Taiwo when we were approached by a group of lads and Solomon was singled out for awful abuse.
“It made me feel horrible to witness it, and I know it affected Solomon as well. We ended up feeling really angry and frustrated and all I can say is that it neds to be reported, because it just shouldn’t happen.”
Thank you to all of the children who came to the event and well done for the superb questions you asked.
Click HERE for more information on the Show Racism the Red Card project.