Theatrical performance opens debate within clubs about diversity and social exclusion

The theatrical performance “I Wish It Was Weekends Again” opens up humorous dialogue within associations about diversity and social exclusion. – Photo: KNVB Media

Racism, homophobia and unequal opportunities for girls and women. Unfortunately, these things still happen in (amateur) football. To open up a conversation about diversity, inclusion, social exclusion, and the pain of hurtful expressions in associations, KNVB and theater company Live Your Story developed a special stage show.

Fifty administrators, members, confidential consultants and other volunteers from more than twenty societies recently gathered in Arnhem to present and discuss the performance with each other during a workshop.

In the performance, “I Wish It Was The Weekend Again,” the actors recount real experiences of football players, ranging from a footballer of color who doesn’t feel at home in a predominantly white football club to a non-binary player. Not welcome in any locker room. , for a girl who doesn’t get the same opportunities as the boys in her club. Some footballers quit because they no longer want to put up with bullying. Others are still playing but feel they can’t be themselves in their club. “The actors play the performance from their own experience or experiences from their environment. That’s what makes it so powerful,” says Brian Donderwinkel, Arnhem-area associations consultant and evening organiser.

“Football is a community, and sports are very diverse. So soccer is also part of the solution,” says director Reeve Ellen Rosebaum. – Photo: KNVB Media

Riff Eline Roozeboom is the founder of Live Your Story and has developed and directed the performance. “We offer different offers to schools and others. Through our business we are dealing with a system of social exclusion. The fact that we are now working with KNVB is worth gold and a great opportunity to discuss the topic on a large scale. Football is a community, and sports are very diverse. In doing so, football is also a part of The solution “.

full of humor

Although racism and discrimination are serious topics, performance is not heavy. In fact, it is full of humor. Rosebaum: “We do this consciously. The topic is precarious, so it also has to be airy. The performance itself lasts about 35 minutes and is a way to start the conversation afterward. The piece opens, as it were, an opening between the attendees, after which they can get to work while workshop”.

Workshop part of the evening. – Photo: KNVB Media

This combination is good, says Dondwinkel. In Arnhem, note that the performance stirred emotions in the audience. “After that, the people wanted to have their say. Nice discussions ensued. In the workshop where the various proposals were discussed, I saw an acknowledgment of the problem by many present. Someone had previously said: “It is not that bad, is it?” But the performance It’s based on personal stories of real people. Just because you haven’t experienced it yourself doesn’t mean it won’t happen. It shows performance with great power.”

With the performance and workshop afterward, Live Your Story attempts to bring greater action capacity among the attendees. “We would like to offer tangible tools to all departments within the club,” says Rosebaum. “For the coach who wants to be there for all the players on the team. For the player who learns how to defend a teammate and the driver who knows the options out there. It’s often unwillingness, but people don’t always know how to tackle social exclusion.”

in the same associations

I have now played the Live Your Story show a few times. The evening in Pappendale, where, in addition to representatives of amateur clubs, Arnhem Mayor Ahmed Markusch and Vitesse General Manager Pascal van Wijk attended, was the beginning of further performances in that region. “Ultimately, we intend to organize these kinds of evenings in the same associations in the canteen, with as many members as possible. We want to put the topic on the map throughout the association. This evening we showed the club representatives how the performance and the workshop works,” says Dondwinkel .

Six clubs have already indicated that they want to bring “I wish it was the weekend again” to their association. In addition, a number of clubs will start working with the Operations Supervisor from Ovivi (our football belongs to everyone). Donderwinkel: “There are many options for clubs from Ovivi, and they’re all free, too.”

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