Shrewsbury Town have named Elliott Bennett as the Sky Bet League One Club’s first-ever Rainbow Laces ambassador.
The campaign, which kicked off earlier this month, saw the Shrews dedicate last weekend’s home fixture against Charlton Athletic to Rainbow Laces.
And Bennett, who has made over 50 appearances for Town and sported a pair of rainbow boots when Shrewsbury welcomed the Addicks to Montgomery Waters Meadow last Saturday, has pledged his support to the initiative.
“The main objective of the campaign is to dedicate a portion of time within a season to say that we stand with you,” he explained. “That may help one individual – we’re never going to know – but if that helps one individual feel that they can be who they want to be.”
The 33-year-old met with Shrewsbury Town Women player Leanne Rimmer to discuss what the campaign means to her and how she has been personally impacted by abuse.
🎥 | Over 80% of LGBTQ+ people say they have heard homophobic abuse in a sporting environment.— Shrewsbury Town FC (@shrewsburytown) October 21, 2022
Rainbow Laces Ambassador (and journalist for the day) @Ebenno88 sat down with @shrewswomen defender @drleannerimmer to discuss the importance of #RainbowLaces 👇
He said: “The other day, Leanne opened my eyes up to say that we might be losing players of a younger age in Academies that are making a choice between being who they really are and playing football.
“How sad is it that we might be losing really good footballers because they’re having to choose whether they’re being who they are and playing football? For me, that’s ultimately wrong.”
And Bennett hopes to see change beyond the campaign, carrying on his work as Shrewsbury’s Rainbow Laces ambassador into the future.
“Clubs doing these things are great but then after that, can you include the fans of your Football Club that are part of the LGBTQ+ community and ask them what their experience is like and how it could be better and give them a time and a space to be able to speak freely?” he questioned.
“Hopefully, in doing that, the progression we will see can be bigger and a lot quicker than it has been in the past.
“We’ve come a very long way since the days my dad and my grandad used to tell me about growing up. I just hope that we can make greater strides forward so everyone that loves football – because this is what we do, and this is what it’s about – feels included and feel like they can enjoy football for what it is.”