Norwich City, Aviva and Proud Canaries teamed up to organise an LGBT-inclusive football tournament on Saturday, May 5, forming part of Aviva’s campaign to celebrate the inclusive and diverse nature of football from the amateur level to the elite.
After the initial recruitment campaign and a series of team training sessions throughout the Spring, the inaugural ‘Proud Canaries Cup’ saw Proud Canaries FC - the team formed by Proud Canaries, Aviva and Norwich City in December - face a number of other LGBT-inclusive and ally teams in a round-robin tournament in the sunshine at Carrow Road.
The other teams who played against the Norfolk-based club included travelling sides from Stonewall FC, Charlton Invicta, London Titans, London Phoenix, Birmingham Blaze, Brighton BLAGGS and Trowbridge Tigers, all of whom contributed to a brilliant evening of celebration for LGBT inclusion and diversity within football.
Birmingham Blaze ran out as eventual winners following a thrilling Final, which saw them beat Stonewall FC in a closely-fought match, to clinch the Proud Canaries Cup in the tournament's first ever year.
As well as the ten teams who played on the day, Amal Fashanu, the niece of Norwich City’s former striker Justin, was among those watching the action from the stands. The tournament was particularly poignant, as it took place just three days after the 20th anniversary since her uncle's tragic death on May 2,1998.
The tournament arranged by Aviva, Norwich City's Community Partner following nine years as the main Club sponsor, not only aimed to celebrate the inclusive, fun and loyal ethos in football which LGBT-inclusive teams embody and promote, but recognised the significant value they bring to their local communities.
A Norwich City spokesperson, said: "Congratulations to everybody at Proud Canaries FC and all the LGBT-affiliated football club supporter groups involved in the inaugural Proud Canaries Cup which took place at Carrow Road on Saturday.
"We are absolutely delighted to join Aviva in officially supporting Proud Canaries FC and it’s great to see them proudly wearing the Club's colours and flying the rainbow flag on the pitch to celebrate inclusivity and diversity. It was great to welcome back Amal Fashanu, three days after the 20th anniversary of her uncle and our legendary striker Justin Fashanu’s death."
Amal Fashanu added: “The Proud Canaries Cup is a great initiative.
"Having Aviva and Norwich City come together with Proud Canaries and pull off an event like this is amazing to see and be a small part of. My uncle Justin would be extremely proud of the place we’ve got to so far.
"People are talking about homophobia and racism in football, and right now I don't think I could have imagined something better."
Tom Daniell, Aviva UK Marketing Director, said: "The establishment of the Proud Canaries Cup is extremely welcome and a moment to celebrate.
"It was brilliant to see so many LGBT-inclusive and ally teams from all around the country at Carrow Road, all of whom contributed to a wonderful day of celebration.
"This is yet another demonstration of the shared commitment of Aviva, Norwich City and Proud Canaries to make football everyone's game, and to create a safe and welcoming environment, where people from all backgrounds are able to enjoy playing the game they love."