Bradford City thrilled a city and surprised the whole country by becoming the first team from English football’s fourth division to reach a major Wembley Cup final. Despite a disappointing defeat against Swansea City, feelings of jubilation remain amongst many people in Bradford. What then can we learn about the possibilities of sport, and other areas of common interest, to be a positive force for inclusion and integration?
This was the central question at British Future’s Beyond Wembley: What can bring Bradford together? debate held on 26th February at the Carlisle Business Centre in Bradford.
“Looking at Bradford right now, we’ve got some fantastic things. We need to make sure that the positive way people are talking about Bradford right now stays,” commented Mary Dawson, a reporter for Bradford Community Broadcasting Radio.
Dawson’s sentiment was echoed by other members of the audience. Namely, this is an exciting moment for Bradford and football certainly can be a positive force, but football alone cannot unite a whole community. The cup run needs to be the beginning not the end of efforts to improve the city both on the pitch and off.
British Future’s Sunder Katwala chaired the debate, with members of the panel including Jason McKeown, editor of The Width of a Post website, Anthony Clavane, chief sportswriter of the Sunday Mirror and author, Riz Rehman, operations director of the Zesh Rehman Foundation, a social inclusion project to bring communities together using football, and Maureen Grant, Development Officer for the Joseph Rowntree Charitable Trust in Bradford.
Watch highlights from debate in the video below and see what the panellists had to say on these issues. Read more about the debate here.