AFC Unity won another award to add to their growing collection, one week ago at South Yorkshire’s LGBT+ Awards at Sheffield’s Library Theatre.
AFC Unity were nominated for “Sports Personality” alongside fellow nominees Jessica Ennis, Rotherham United, Sheffield Hallam University Rugby, Sheffield Steel Rollergirls, Sheffield Varsity, University of Sheffield Hockey, and Yorkshire Terriers FC. But it was AFC Unity that were chosen for the award ‘because (the) team’s actions have promoted positive representation of the LGBT+ community within sports and have inspired LGBT+ individuals to take pride, break down barriers and tackle stigma within the sporting community.’
‘It’s a fantastic achievement for the club and ties into our ethos as a club that football is so much more than just a game,’ said AFC Unity co-founder Jane Watkinson. ‘Football can be a powerful and positive force for social good and something we all want to keep building on.’
‘This award means a lot to us because it reflects our intentions as an independent women’s football club to not just be inclusive but pro-actively influence the wider culture as a whole,’ added co-founder and manager Jay Baker. ‘We’re proud to go to great lengths and great pains to protect our ethos and to shout out for the rights of the LGBT community as per the vision and values of AFC Unity, and we’re very grateful for this recognition.’
Coming off of Unity’s own end-of-season Awards Night where Baker spoke of greater empowerment of players in representing the club going forward, 2016/17 first team players Claire Cusack and winner of the CFM Award on that night, Steph Sargent, both attended the event to represent AFC Unity. They didn’t assume they’d be going up on stage to collect the award as winners!
‘The LGBT+ Awards ceremony was a fantastic evening, where members and allies of the community came together to celebrate those who have contributed to improving equality to those who identify as LGBT,’ said Claire. ‘Representing my team AFC Unity, and celebrating our achievements at such a prestigious event was a great honour, and a moment I will never forget.’
Added Steph: ‘I was so pleased to be asked to represent my club going to such a brilliant event – thank you, and here’s to the next!’
Despite AFC Unity being just over three years old, this latest award adds to the increasing collection in an extraordinary 12 month period for the club, having picked up the FA’s national Respect Award for the women’s pyramid, taking Bronze in Sport England’s Satellite Club of the Year awards, and runners-up as Most Innovative Organisation at the VAS Awards.