Wigan Athletic winger Viv Solomon-Otabor joined pupils from Orrell Holgate Primary School at a virtual Show Racism the Red Card workshop on Friday.
Hosted alongside Wigan Athletic Community Trust, the event celebrated #BlackHistoryMonth and provided the opportunity for pupils to speak to Viv and former professional footballer Kenneth Monkou, with the pair answering questions about their experiences of racism in football.
Signed by Latics in September, the 24-year old recently spoke openly about his experiences of racism in the game during his time in Bulgaria and believes it’s important for youngsters to learn about the subject.
He said: “It was a very good session, and it was good to have the kids asking important questions on racism, tackling it and my own experiences. For me it was good and great to make everyone aware of what’s going on and how to stop it.
“We should do our homework on the history and where racism started, not just what black people went through but other ethnicities from all over the world as well. From what went on back in the day it shouldn’t be still going on today because of how bad and violent it was then.
“Now it’s still going on through verbal abuse which is wrong and I feel if we all do our homework then we know it’s wrong and shouldn’t be happening.”
Speaking about his personal experiences, Viv added: “When I first went through it I was shocked, emotional and upset but my parents and close family and friends spoke to me. For me I had time to reflect about what happened but now it’s only made me mentally stronger and nothing can phase me anymore.”
Prior to the online session, pupils spent the morning learning more on what they can do to challenge racism in their society through the Premier League Primary Stars programme.
James Lomax, teacher at Orrell Holgate, said the workshops and virtual session provided many valuable points for the children to take away and put into action.
“They loved it and it gave us some great conversation starters. It’s raised their experience of discrimination and of other people’s experiences. Some were shocked that racism has happened so close to home, particularly a professional footballer for their local football club.”
On the pupils listening to Viv’s experiences, he added: “They felt real empathy when Viv spoke about his experience of being racially abused in Bulgaria. A massive thanks to him for his time and the Community Trust for providing the opportunity to the pupils.”
Latics have built up a strong partnership with Show Racism the Red Card over the past few years hosting a number of workshops at the DW Stadium. But with restrictions due to COVID-19, Chief Executive, Ged Grebby, is glad youngsters can still learn about such an important topic, albeit virtually.
“Show Racism the Red Card have a long standing partnership with Wigan Athletic Community Trust, having worked with both the club and the Trust for many years.
“Like many organisations, Show Racism the Red Card are having to adapt to life during this pandemic and move our anti-racism education work online. Our thanks to Wigan for helping us with this new formula for education work with football clubs and we hope to be able to do more work online with the club this year.”