Football clubs must do more to highlight domestic abuse issue

Mandy Proctor, chief executive of Leeway,is calling for football clubs to take more of a lead on the

Mandy Proctor, chief executive of Leeway,is calling for football clubs to take more of a lead on the issue of domestic abuse. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY - Credit: Copyright: Archant 2017

Opinion: Football clubs should do more to support campaigns against domestic abuse, says Mandy Proctor

I am really pleased that the new football season is well under way and I look forward with a passion to watching my local team Norwich City.

It's been a bit of a bumpy start, but I am still feeling fairly optimistic about the coming season and hope that Daniel Farke can still turn things around in these early days.

While Norwich may not have spent as much money as others on players, I am sure that the team will still do supporters proud and play some entertaining football, despite the shaky start.

In the charity world, funding and resources can be limited, which is a massive contrast to the huge amounts of money spent in football nowadays, and there is now a real danger that clubs and players could lose touch with local communities and their fans.

Clubs and players could really make a difference and make a commitment to work together more closely with charities, locally and nationally, raising awareness for vital issues such as domestic abuse, which have a massive impact on all their local communities and effects women, men, children and young people.

For example, if Manchester United players were to wear t-shirts to campaign against domestic abuse while they were warming up, it could send out a strong message.

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Not only are their games watched live by 75,000 people, they are also viewed by many more across the country, providing a great opportunity to raise awareness to a large audience.

Even if this could be offered to charities once or twice in a season, it would have a massive impact on raising awareness of important issues, such as domestic abuse, encouraging many people to come forward to seek help early.

It could be so beneficial to have those in the public eye and idolised by many fans making a stand to say no to domestic abuse for those women, men and children who are constantly living in fear and in need of support.

Leeway is lucky to have Chrissie Jackson and Nina Nannar as Patrons, who both do an excellent job helping us to raise awareness of domestic abuse, and we have also been fortunate to have the support of some Norwich players past and present.

I was really delighted to see ex-Norwich captain Grant Holt and fellow ex-Canary Rob Newman at Leeway's golf day in April, and also former players Dean Ashton and Declan Rudd have attended previous events.

To gain the support of high-profile ex-footballers is a massive boost for the charity, however it would be good to see a greater response from clubs and players nationally also, especially as domestic abuse and football are often closely linked.

A study by the University of Lancaster found that domestic abuse incidents rose during the 2010 World Cup by 38% when England lost and also by 26% when they won, compared to the same period in the previous year.

This is quite a shocking statistic, although there were some campaigns in the build up to the tournament, which could have had an impact on the amount of people coming forward.

Another study, this time from Strathclyde Police in 2011, also found that incidents of domestic abuse rose in the aftermath of the Old Firm derby between Celtic and Rangers.

There is clearly a trend between high pressure games and increases in domestic abuse.

This is why I feel that sport has a massive role to play in helping to raise awareness of domestic abuse and sending out a strong message to the thousands that watch.

Domestic abuse is an issue that should be talked about more openly and it would be so beneficial by raising more awareness of the issues it can encourage people experiencing domestic abuse to access support much earlier before a serious incident occurs.

With the ongoing help and support of sports teams, the media, stars and those in the public eye, domestic abuse can become something that people feel more confident in talking about and this could indeed help to save lives.

It would be a great way to work together, for them to give something back to their fans and the community. Every gesture from ex-players, current players and clubs could have a huge impact for victims of domestic abuse and, as well as helping to make a difference to people's lives, it would also enhance the reputation of the football clubs and their players too.

Mandy Proctor is chief executive of Leeway, a charity providing support to those experiencing domestic abuse.