Show Racism the Red Card


Posted by in November's Magazine

With his snooker ball shaved head, his Hibernian tattoos and the gnarly grimace of a pit-bull terrier chewing on a wasp, Bryan Maughan does not give the first impression of a man suited to working through the endless paperwork and tiresome meetings which are part and parcel of life as a community activist.

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Never judge a book by its cover. In fact, he is an articulate, thoughtful and friendly gent, who has dedicated the past two decades of his working life towards helping local youngsters. You could fill this magazine several times over with articles on worthy projects he has been involved in (or would liked to be involved in if the funding could have been sourced), and he is happy to explain in detail what these schemes have achieved or how they could be improved.

On this particular October morning – whilst taking a quick breather from clearing up after a toddlers play group at the Pilmeny Youth Centre on Buchanan Street which he manages – Maughan is talking about the three-day football festival held at Leith Community Centre between the 19th and 21st October which he helped organise for local youngsters as part of a ‘Fortnight of Action’ spear-headed by the charity Show Racism The Red Card (SRTRC).

“It started back in 2005 after the youth centre was approached by Sikh Sanjog, one of our user groups, to establish a school holiday project aimed at football coaching being used to pass on the anti-racism message within the wider Leith community,” he explains.

“We prepared an application to SRTRC and were awarded a grant which got the ball rolling. Redpath Albion (the local amateur and youth football club, which Maughan has been chairman of for over 20 years) agreed to facilitate the coaching element of the project and have been involved ever since. The Citadel Youth Centre was next to step aboard, by offering to provide educational input aimed at raising racism awareness. And in 2006, the Community Learning and Development Team (CLD) based in Leith made a positive financial approach to the project and became a key partner.”
“Year on year the project has grown, with the introduction of a girl’s day in 2006. This year there were about 75 kids from various ethnic backgrounds actively involved in the tournament over the three days, with a few dozen more coming along for finals night.”

Maughan is keen to name check anyone and everyone who has provided assistance – including the Leith Police Neighbourhood Action Unit (who provided the outdoor pitch used on finals night), local company Trinity Roofing (who covered the cost of medals for the participants and refreshments) and Leith Community Centre (who provided the venue for free and paid for the main trophy for the winning team) – because he knows that he needs to keep everyone on side. Times are hard, and so it follows that getting the money together to continue this worthy project gets harder and harder with each passing year.

“This year it cost us £1,333 for three days and a night, including £300 for a buffet. It isn’t a lot in the grand scheme of things, but you would be amazed at how much work goes into scraping that money together,” he says.
“In our first year, SRTRC gave us nearly £1000 but now we are only getting £600. You end up juggling the cash to get everything paid for. It gets to the stage where you are hoping that not all of the staff who have said they will help turn up, because you can’t afford to pay them all.”

“If you weren’t driven on by the enthusiasm of the people actually involved you’d just walk away from the whole thing,” he adds. “On Wednesday night after everyone else had gone home, the three main organisers – myself, Andy Thomas from the Citadel and Callum Gibson from the CLD – sat looking at each other, and you could tell we were all thinking the same things: Are we going to put ourselves through this again? It is not until you debrief it all that you realise that it really went well, that with a few tweaks we can make it even better, and before you know it you’re committed again.”
It is a tragedy that such a worthy cause struggles so much to make ends meet. The number of kids involved may be relatively small, but the project has the potential to make huge changes in the quality of life of those who do get the chance to take part.

“For starters, it is a chance to show kids from Eastern European and Asian communities that there is so much more for them to get involved in. A lot of them didn’t realise before that the Citadel or Pilmeny Youth Centres even existed, and we know from past experience that they will get involved in other projects we are running, and they will get their pals along,” says Maughan.

“And it is not just about breaking down barriers between different ethnic communities, but also breaking down the barriers between different parts of Leith,” he adds.

“There is this big territorial thing going on between, different parts of Leith but because they all want to be involved they all turn-up, and you can see there are a few snarls at first, but by the time the project is finished it is high-fives and everyone is pals. That does make a difference next time they run into each other out on the street, because they don’t immediately view each other as the enemy.”

“Our biggest problem is trying to build on the successful platform we have with this football event. It would be nice to say to these young people that we’ll have something else for them in December or early in the New Year – but the SRTRC money is only available for a fortnight in October. So we’ll just have to carry on as best we can.”

One response to “Show Racism the Red Card”

  1. Philip says:

    Great cause, someone give these folks some money!

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