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Increasing Rugby League diversity


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#1 goldcoaster

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Posted 24 July 2013 - 12:33 PM

After travelling to quite a few RL locations this season, I have been considering if the RFL and clubs are doing enough (if anything) to create more cultural diversity amongst Rugby League fans and players? Do they have programs or resources injected into promoting the game amongst diverse multicultural communities?

 

The Rugby League 'heartlands' are blessed with a diverse mix of cultures and backgrounds, particularly in West Yorkshire. Despite that however, a look around a stadium on any match day, and it shows a largely mono-cultural group of people with little diversity. With crowds not fantastic this season, and a potentially large fanbase right on the game's doorstep, I believe the powers that be should be doing more to promote the game to all cultures in the community.

 

Does anyone have some suggestions, or ways of promoting the game in the heartlands to all cultures? I'm thinking things like multi-lingual websites and match programmes, sending players to do promotional and training activities with kids in multi-faith schools, appointing an RFL diversity officer (or more), greater varieties of food available on match days, prayer rooms in stadiums etc.

 

All constructive ideas to better promote our sport to all people in the heartlands.


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#2 brooza

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Posted 24 July 2013 - 12:36 PM

Not had chance to read it, but there's a paper here that might be relevent: http://www.linkedin....t=tracking_disc


Edited by brooza, 24 July 2013 - 12:36 PM.

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#3 Methven Hornet

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Posted 24 July 2013 - 02:14 PM

One person it might be rewarding to search on is Dr Karl Spracklen. He has published studies relating rugby league/sport to ethnicity, working class indentity, northen-ness, race/racism and diversity.


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#4 gogledd

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Posted 24 July 2013 - 02:41 PM

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#5 Duff Duff

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Posted 24 July 2013 - 04:19 PM

After travelling to quite a few RL locations this season, I have been considering if the RFL and clubs are doing enough (if anything) to create more cultural diversity amongst Rugby League fans and players? Do they have programs or resources injected into promoting the game amongst diverse multicultural communities?
 
The Rugby League 'heartlands' are blessed with a diverse mix of cultures and backgrounds, particularly in West Yorkshire. Despite that however, a look around a stadium on any match day, and it shows a largely mono-cultural group of people with little diversity. With crowds not fantastic this season, and a potentially large fanbase right on the game's doorstep, I believe the powers that be should be doing more to promote the game to all cultures in the community.
 
Does anyone have some suggestions, or ways of promoting the game in the heartlands to all cultures? I'm thinking things like multi-lingual websites and match programmes, sending players to do promotional and training activities with kids in multi-faith schools, appointing an RFL diversity officer (or more), greater varieties of food available on match days, prayer rooms in stadiums etc.
 
All constructive ideas to better promote our sport to all people in the heartlands.


You can't force people to encourage people to like something that is cultural foreign to them. Outreach programme are all well and good but if the interest isn't there then it is very difficult to generate it artificially.

The struggles that Yorkshire County cricket have had getting the Pakistani community to engage with it are well documented. Even in a sport that is very popular amongst Pakistanis getting them to play mainstream club cricket and getting them to turn up to watch Yorkshire has been a real problem. Things are slowly changing but it has taken a very long time and a lot of effort.

I am not sure how far Rugby League has gone down the road with this process but it has an even harder sell than county cricket.

#6 keighley

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Posted 26 July 2013 - 04:08 AM

With Dr Khoukash, Faisal Nahaboo and Mr Khan now running three of our most traditional clubs, maybe the local ethnic population will be intrigued and give the game a try.



#7 Duff Duff

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Posted 26 July 2013 - 09:49 AM

Well the example of county cricket doesn't offer that much hope. Yorkshire, Leicestershire and Warkwickshire have all had their problems getting the their local Asian populations interested in the county game and involved in mainstream cricket. That is despite the popularity cricket in the Asian community. Soccer and Rugby Union have had similar problems. Not an easy one to crack I am afraid.

#8 redjonn

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Posted 26 July 2013 - 11:51 AM

I guess the idea's in the opening post seem a reasonable.  I guess you have to think about the overall experience and not just the game.  I guess most people get to game about 1 hour before and hence it's how you make use of that hour or more to hit the cultural attractions from which people stay on and get a taste of the game. 

 

So some sort of big cultural event at the ground plus some sports that are popular in the countries that are more culturally tied to that parts of the population trying to attract could be played before the rugby league game.    Do this a number of times and hence some stay on and may be attracted to rugby league.  I don't know what the sports are from those countries but surely there are some that are just played in those countries that could be brought over....

 

or a big Bollywood event staged before games

 

Anyway make the overall experience more than just about a 80min game... although Friday nights may not lend itself and game may be better on a Saturday or Sunday when trying a different cultural approach



#9 Duff Duff

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Posted 26 July 2013 - 01:15 PM

I guess the idea's in the opening post seem a reasonable.  I guess you have to think about the overall experience and not just the game.  I guess most people get to game about 1 hour before and hence it's how you make use of that hour or more to hit the cultural attractions from which people stay on and get a taste of the game. 
 
So some sort of big cultural event at the ground plus some sports that are popular in the countries that are more culturally tied to that parts of the population trying to attract could be played before the rugby league game.    Do this a number of times and hence some stay on and may be attracted to rugby league.  I don't know what the sports are from those countries but surely there are some that are just played in those countries that could be brought over....
 
or a big Bollywood event staged before games
 
Anyway make the overall experience more than just about a 80min game... although Friday nights may not lend itself and game may be better on a Saturday or Sunday when trying a different cultural approach


I think introducing children to rugby league from a young age and getting them to play it will be a help. Look at the West Indians and West Africans who have ended up representing England in League and Union over the years. As far as I am aware there isn't much rugby played in the either West Africa or the West Indies but people from those communities both started playing the rugby when they moved to England.

In terms of the Asian population it is a issue that soccer and cricket have been wrestling with for years.

#10 Pie tries

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Posted 26 July 2013 - 01:27 PM

Bradford need to do far far more and attract more British Asians to their games....

#11 Duff Duff

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Posted 26 July 2013 - 01:59 PM

Bradford need to do far far more and attract more British Asians to their games....


How do Bradford City manage?

I don't want to be too sweeping in a generalisation but most of the Asian people I know tend to be Manchester Utd or Liverpool supporters for some reason or other.

#12 Methven Hornet

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Posted 26 July 2013 - 07:44 PM

You can't force people to encourage people to like something that is cultural foreign to them. Outreach programme are all well and good but if the interest isn't there then it is very difficult to generate it artificially.

The struggles that Yorkshire County cricket have had getting the Pakistani community to engage with it are well documented. Even in a sport that is very popular amongst Pakistanis getting them to play mainstream club cricket and getting them to turn up to watch Yorkshire has been a real problem. Things are slowly changing but it has taken a very long time and a lot of effort.

I am not sure how far Rugby League has gone down the road with this process but it has an even harder sell than county cricket.

 
Yorkshire cricket's difficulties in attracting those from the county's ethnic minorities is probably too complex an issue to be resolved in a forum like this, but the county cricket club is having to battle against its previous reputation of excluding 'outsiders'. In addition, there seems to remain a perception amongst many with south Asian heritage that the club really doesn't want to include them.

One person who has studied the relationship between Yorkshire cricket and Yorkshire's British Asians is Dr Thomas Fletcher, of Leeds Metropolitan Uni. The linked article looks at the issue and examines the difficulties from both sides.

‘All Yorkshiremen are from Yorkshire, but some are more “Yorkshire” than others’: British Asians and the myths of Yorkshire cricket

Two quotes stood out for me in terms of including people from outside what would be considered the usual participants...
 

Taz, for instance said:
 
I'm just not convinced they (the club and its members) are sincere … so much has gone on between Yorkshire and Asians already for me to trust the club.

Similar views were expressed by Addy, who reflected on feeling uncomfortable and unwanted when he had played for Yorkshire as a junior. Addy, like many more ethnic minorities felt like he never truly belonged within the Yorkshire setup:

I remember when I was seventeen, playing for Yorkshire, it was horrendous. I got no support whatsoever. I made a fifty and none of the white lads' parents even bothered to clap me … Yeah, I was playing for Yorkshire, but that was a sign I wasn't equal.


It is an informative read, and illustrates some of the problems that may exist for a game such as rugby league - a game that currently seems to be reinventing itself once again as belonging to the traditional north.
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#13 nec

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Posted 26 July 2013 - 08:18 PM

How about a series of matches involving BARA, Lebanon, Morocco and UAE in places like Oldham keighley Bradford etc; Get the consulates on board, try to secure funding from diversity charities to secure flights and accommodation. Muslims enjoying RL will break down more barriers than a white development officer could. Then we need to ensure our clubs, pro and amateur are properly welcoming....
Rugby League is a sport that desperately needs to expand its geographical supporter base and its player base. This imperative means that all other requirements are secondary until this is done.

All power in the game should be with governing bodies, especially international governing bodies.

Without these actions we will remain a minor sport internationally and nationally.

#14 Duff Duff

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Posted 27 July 2013 - 01:27 AM

Yorkshire cricket's difficulties in attracting those from the county's ethnic minorities is probably too complex an issue to be resolved in a forum like this, but the county cricket club is having to battle against its previous reputation of excluding 'outsiders'. In addition, there seems to remain a perception amongst many with south Asian heritage that the club really doesn't want to include them.One person who has studied the relationship between Yorkshire cricket and Yorkshire's British Asians is Dr Thomas Fletcher, of Leeds Metropolitan Uni. The linked article looks at the issue and examines the difficulties from both sides.‘All Yorkshiremen are from Yorkshire, but some are more “Yorkshire” than others’: British Asians and the myths of Yorkshire cricketTwo quotes stood out for me in terms of including people from outside what would be considered the usual participants... It is an informative read, and illustrates some of the problems that may exist for a game such as rugby league - a game that currently seems to be reinventing itself once again as belonging to the traditional north.


Well Yorkshire isn't the only the county club that has struggled to engage with the British Pakistani community and many of those problems are due to the insularity that the Pakistani community often exhibits.

Indeed British West Indians and British Indians have tended to be much better at integrating into mainstream English cricket so it is a bit unfair to blame English cricket as "racist". (Unfortunately most 3rd and 4th generation West Indians have little or no interest in cricket anymore!) Yorkshire does sound like it has its own unique issues though.

Whether Rugby League can overcome some of the issues cricket has will remained to be seen. However if there isn't the initial interest in Rugby League like there is in Soccer and cricket it will be a struggle. How racially mixed are the schools in places like Bradford? If you have informal segregation in the classroom overcoming prejudice on both sides is very difficult. For example many people think that the divided education system in Northern Ireland is one of the main reasons for its continuing sectarianism.

#15 Johnoco

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Posted 27 July 2013 - 03:51 AM

Bradford need to do far far more and attract more British Asians to their games....

You say that as if they have never even tried. They have. Lead a horse to water and all that.

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#16 Johnoco

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Posted 27 July 2013 - 03:57 AM

How do Bradford City manage?

I don't want to be too sweeping in a generalisation but most of the Asian people I know tend to be Manchester Utd or Liverpool supporters for some reason or other.

City don't get that many Asian fans either really. Quite a lot will jump on board with things like the Carling Cup but as for week in week out regulars, there isn't that many. More than the Bulls perhaps but this is possibly because of soccers popularity.

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No cause for so much hatred, I'm just a different man

Pull off that cover, I will too, and learn to understand

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#17 goldcoaster

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Posted 27 July 2013 - 07:49 AM

One of Australian Rugby League's big success stories has been attracting support from Sydney's Lebanese community. The Bulldogs and Dragons have best been able to channel this support to their clubs by recruiting players of this origin o play for them. Perhaps this is something SL clubs could do.

For example, Bradford could recruit some British-Pakistani teenagers and teach them RL in a professional environment (ie pay them from the start), or provide them with private school scholarships, and hopefully progress one or two to the first team after a couple of years. Sure, it's risky, and it's unlikely they would be up to SL level, however, if the club could afford to carry a few players like this and give them regular game time, it could be worth it ten times over if it attracts a wider fan base.

I'm thinking along the lines of how EPL clubs recruit Chinese and Japanese players to attract fans from that part of the world. Only the SL club would need to play these guys most weeks for it to work.
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#18 Methven Hornet

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Posted 27 July 2013 - 10:28 AM

Well Yorkshire isn't the only the county club that has struggled to engage with the British Pakistani community and many of those problems are due to the insularity that the Pakistani community often exhibits.

Indeed British West Indians and British Indians have tended to be much better at integrating into mainstream English cricket so it is a bit unfair to blame English cricket as "racist". (Unfortunately most 3rd and 4th generation West Indians have little or no interest in cricket anymore!) Yorkshire does sound like it has its own unique issues though.

Whether Rugby League can overcome some of the issues cricket has will remained to be seen. However if there isn't the initial interest in Rugby League like there is in Soccer and cricket it will be a struggle. How racially mixed are the schools in places like Bradford? If you have informal segregation in the classroom overcoming prejudice on both sides is very difficult. For example many people think that the divided education system in Northern Ireland is one of the main reasons for its continuing sectarianism.


It isn't just a Yorkshire or a Yorkshire cricket issue, but I thought the article was relevant because it dealt with the same northern county that makes up a large part of rugby league's heartland. And the issue shouldn't really be about blame or fault but about understanding attitudes, how they have come about and how they can be changed. We all know that the Yorkshire identity is very important to people in Yorkshire sport, but it can be important to the county's Asian population, along with their own particular Pakistani/Bangladeshi/Indian heritage. One young cricketer in the article stressed how much he had been influenced by 'traditional' Yorkshire values, alongside those of his own family community; as it happens he doesn't really see that much difference between the two!

I do understand that there can be a kind of informal segregation between the native and Pakistani-heritage communities. The first house my wife and I bought was in an ethnically-mixed area and, although the relationships between the 'home' and 'Pakinstani' communities were reasonably okay, there was very little contact between us other than through shopping, saying hello in the street and the odd conversation. We didn't socialise, the children went to different schools and there was a mutual suspiscion of each other.

How you overcome the barriers is another question. Top-down efforts, such as creating special community development officers to foster participation, are one way, but they can be viewed, again, with mutual suspicion - some people from one side sees one particular ethnic group being given special privileges, other people in the targeted group see an organisation/sport that didn't want them suddenly making a special effort now it is in their interests.

One interesting parallel, and one that Goldcoaster mentions, is with the Lebanese community in Sydney. Rugby league there seems to have been a lot more successful in including that minority into the game than we have, and I would have imagined that there were similar issues associated with social integration in that case.

Could it be that the Australian identity - influenced by generations of immigrants, remember - is more capable of absorbing multiple identities? You can be Lebanese, Greek, Croat, but also 100% Australian? Do Yorkshire, Lancashire, Cumbrian identities need to be more overarching, allowing people to express themselves as Yorkshire-English, Yorkshire-Pakistani, even Yorkshire-Welsh!
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#19 Duff Duff

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Posted 27 July 2013 - 11:44 AM

It isn't just a Yorkshire or a Yorkshire cricket issue, but I thought the article was relevant because it dealt with the same northern county that makes up a large part of rugby league's heartland. And the issue shouldn't really be about blame or fault but about understanding attitudes, how they have come about and how they can be changed. We all know that the Yorkshire identity is very important to people in Yorkshire sport, but it can be important to the county's Asian population, along with their own particular Pakistani/Bangladeshi/Indian heritage. One young cricketer in the article stressed how much he had been influenced by 'traditional' Yorkshire values, alongside those of his own family community; as it happens he doesn't really see that much difference between the two!I do understand that there can be a kind of informal segregation between the native and Pakistani-heritage communities. The first house my wife and I bought was in an ethnically-mixed area and, although the relationships between the 'home' and 'Pakinstani' communities were reasonably okay, there was very little contact between us other than through shopping, saying hello in the street and the odd conversation. We didn't socialise, the children went to different schools and there was a mutual suspiscion of each other.How you overcome the barriers is another question. Top-down efforts, such as creating special community development officers to foster participation, are one way, but they can be viewed, again, with mutual suspicion - some people from one side sees one particular ethnic group being given special privileges, other people in the targeted group see an organisation/sport that didn't want them suddenly making a special effort now it is in their interests.One interesting parallel, and one that Goldcoaster mentions, is with the Lebanese community in Sydney. Rugby league there seems to have been a lot more successful in including that minority into the game than we have, and I would have imagined that there were similar issues associated with social integration in that case.Could it be that the Australian identity - influenced by generations of immigrants, remember - is more capable of absorbing multiple identities? You can be Lebanese, Greek, Croat, but also 100% Australian? Do Yorkshire, Lancashire, Cumbrian identities need to be more overarching, allowing people to express themselves as Yorkshire-English, Yorkshire-Pakistani, even Yorkshire-Welsh!


Integrated schooling is the key. Once people grow up with each and get to know each other from a young age any misconceptions and prejudices soon evaporate.

What you have just described is why political multiculturalism, however well meaning, has been pretty disastrous. People need to be encouraged to integrate and assimilate into mainstream society not ghettoise themselves and emphasise their differences. By inclination people like to live, work and socialise with people like themselves. Political multiculturalism is a basic misunderstanding of human nature and based in some sort of utopian pipe dream that has never existed.

I throughly agree that the moralising and blame culture over racial and cultural tensions is completely counter productive. What is needed are practical solutions rather over intellectualised waffle excusing unacceptable behaviour within both mainstream society and minority communities.

#20 MustardBoy

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Posted 27 July 2013 - 06:44 PM

A kid born to English parents in an ex-pat Benidorm commune won't have Spanish values and interests, he'll be English but born abroad and will share the same interests as the people in his immediate surroundings. You can't then blame the Spanish for not trying hard enough to involve him in Spanish culture.

 

In England, we're allowing a similar division to continue, with Islamic faith schools to popping up everywhere and whole towns/regions of cities to become foreign monocultures. This will only continue our cultural differences.

 

This forced mass immigration was a social experiment to actively encourage people with completely different cultures to come here and make us diverse. I find it odd, how people now seem baffled that these same people with their different cultures, values and religions don't slot right into our way of life. Or, how their offspring don't grow up with British values and interests. This was never about assimilation, it was about diversity, multiculturalism.

 

It's a shame, as clubs like Batley, Dewsbury & Bradford won't be here in another 25-30 years when those areas are even more ethnically cleansed. Don't expect Asian communities to support them as they're just not interested, and why would/should they be?

 

I get the feeling many feel we don't do enough to encourage 'minorities' to integrate, but it's also up to them to get involved. If they don't want to know and wish to continue their cultural way of life and ignore their new host nation, we can't be held accountable for their secular ways. We can only do so much.






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