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Level playing field

02 November 2006



by Margaret Duggan


FOOTBALL IS a great leveller, says the Revd Tony Tooby, Vicar of St Philip’s, Girlington, a parish on the edge of Bradford where the population is 75-per-cent Asian mixed with Afro-Caribbean and white Yorkshire.


He got involved with managing young football teams when his son, Christopher, starting playing for Heaton Juniors, and Mr Tooby realised that if he didn’t manage the team there wouldn’t be one.


Now he has about a hundred seven- to 14-year-olds, a complete mixture of races, including a girls’ team that outclasses the boys (two of the girls have already been poached by teams in Leeds and Bradford.)


They practise on Saturday mornings and belong to a Sunday-afternoon league, and Mr Tooby has never seen any sign of racial tension on the football field. “If you can get them to play as one on the field, they can take that into the community,” he says, and tries hard to get the parents involved.


It is a tough area with a lot of vandalism, but most families get along well together. Mr Tooby’s congregation of 150 is half Asian, including Pakistani Christians, with the rest almost equally divided into Afro-Caribbean and white.


He tells me that recent events in the Middle East have had little effect on them: “It is only a small percentage of uneducated and unemployed youths who cause trouble.”



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