Non-League Diversity Football Festival

Gravesham based Punjab United working with the Kent Football Association, Kick it Out and the BAME Football Forum arranged the first Non-League Diversity Football Festival which took place on Saturday July 3rd. Cohesion Plus was delighted to be the artistic and community partner for the event.

The other teams that took part were Sporting Bengal from London, Leicester Nirvana and Sporting Khalsa from the West Midlands. The eventual winners were Sporting Khalsa who play in the 8th tier of English football. The 4 teams are some of the highest ranking BAME led teams in the Country and all have strong links to the South Asian community who have traditionally struggled to gain a foothold in the higher echelons of the game be it on the playing or coaching side.

Community partners also in attendance included the Chair of Kent County Council Ann Allen, Deputy Lord Lieutenant Kelvin Holford, Deputy Mayor of Gravesham Peter Scollard, Chair of the North Kent Inter Faith Network Bishop Greg Kitsell, former Gravesham Mayor Tanmanjeet Dhesi and now MP for Slough, President of the Guru Nanak Darbar Gurdwara Manpreet Dhaliwal, Chair of Gravesend and Dartford Muslim Association Ejaz Aslam and Secretary of the Shah Jalal Mosque Shamim Miah.

Entertainment was provided by the 4×4 Kings of Dhol who led all the teams onto the pitch for the opening ceremony.

Chipie Sian Chairman and Manager of Punjab United commented “I am really proud of what we achieved and am grateful to the other clubs to come from across the Country to support us with this event. It is important that we use our platform to showcase the positive work being done around diversity and inclusion in non-league football and to also highlight some of the challenges that still exist. I am keen to build upon this for next year and get more teams involved.”

Gurvinder Sandher from Cohesion Plus commented “Football is a great way to bring people together. We are seeing with the current success of the England team and how the nation has got behind them. Football clubs like Punjab United are at the heart of our local communities and play a positive role in promoting not just football but also community cohesion. I am pleased that we have been able to support their work over many years and have seen their rise up the football pyramid.”