Gala Fairydean Rovers’ inclusivity consultation with Eastern Europeans on Saturday may not have attracted as many people as organisers may have wished, but according to club secretary Graeme McIver, it was a good start.
Jennifer Malone, diversity and inclusion officer at the Scottish Football Association, travelled to Galashiels on Saturday to give a presentation to immigrants who had been invited along to both take part in the consultation, as well as take in the club’s match against Edinburgh University.
Only three people turned up on the day. One was Irina Juodeike from Lithuania, whose son Faustas plays for one of the junior teams. The others were Langlee Chip Shop owners Dennis Akan and Emin Basanmay from Turkey, who had not had any previous contact with the club, but were curious about it. Because of the few atendees, it became a question and answer session, looking at how the club can better engage with the local community as a whole, including those who are new to the country.
One of the problems raised was that many people work on Saturdays and therefore could not attend either the consultation or any matches. Another was that there was a stigma attached to the term immigrant, which could stop the youngsters from wanting to take part.
Dennis and Emin revealed that they were part of a team that played a team of Romanians every Sunday at Tweedbank.
Mr McIver said he would look at the possibility of arranging for them to play at the 3G Arena, or getting coaches from the club to go and watch them play.
He told The Southern: “There may not be many here, but this is a start. We want to know how best to connect with the whole community and the information we have gained here will help up do that.”