By Yasmin Donald (She/her)
Football, all be it a bit battered and bruised, has rallied after the major economic and somatic pushbacks of the pandemic. Has this been because of the players’ drive to continue? Sure. Is it because teams were able to train again? Yes. Is it because stadiums are still standing and raring to go? Absolutely.
However, the common denominator that makes all of the vital components of the game possible is the existence of the community. It was the online football community that supported players on social media. It was the football community who bought merchandise during Lockdown. It was again the football community who bought tickets to attend the games.
I say football community generally because it doesn’t take the love of one single team to bring everyone together under a retractable Teflon roof: it takes the love of teams, the love of footballing communities as a whole.
The documentary Welcome to Wrexham, for example, is not about how the A-list Hollywood owners have made the club more popular; it is, in fact, a massive tribute to the community of Wrexham. The show focuses on the Wrexham community’s personal connection to the game via the likes of family bonding, friendship meetups, and, most touchingly, the opportunity to aid others with disabilities.
What this club therefore exemplifies is that, at a micro level, a continual love for a football team is not built on feelings of superiority or disdain towards others; it is built on positive interconnections between people. Valuing people is what keeps the game alive, and football clubs know this all too well.
At a local level, both Rangers and Celtic are doing sleepouts this winter to generate funding to help some of the same vulnerable groups, including young people, old people, and people experiencing homelessness.
Both clubs also gave the thumbs up to unique activities which shall help fund their foundations which aid local communities. Two Rangers fans have set up a podcast for the Rangers Charity Foundation. Some Celtic fans are currently trying to generate funding for the Celtic FC Foundation’s work via their big Artic Adventure (which they are set to do in January 2023).
This September, Celtic and Rangers even banded together to help those struggling during the cost-of-living crisis. The Celtic Supporting Foodbanks and @GersFoodBanks tweeted asking fans to come together to help collect tins and other items for those finding it hard to afford the necessities.
According to the Scottish Sun, both sets of fans attended and “they’ve received bags and bags of donations.”
This winter, and hopefully forever more, remember that loving a football club is about being part of a community, and the community itself is about valuing people. If you can help or donate to any of the people currently seeking funding for these foundations and causes, please do.
Ultimately, we are all on the same team.
Pitch given by Leah Buist
Edited by Theerada Moonsiri