Sunderland stars speak about experiences of racism at schools event

Sunderland stars past and present opened up about their experiences of racism at a special educational event.

Schoolchildren visited the Stadium of Light for the Show Racism the Red Card-organised day of events.

From left Justine King, former SAFC Gary Bennett, Unison's Emma Jenkinson and SAFC players Papy Djilobodji and Steven Pienaar.

From left Justine King, former SAFC Gary Bennett, Unison's Emma Jenkinson and SAFC players Papy Djilobodji and Steven Pienaar.

Pupils took part in a series of workshops and also watched a screening of a film featuring former players such as Ryan Giggs and Les Ferdinand.

They then got to pose questions to SAFC players Steven Pienaar and Papy Djilobodji as well as Show Racism the Red Card (SRtRC) ambassador and former Black Cats skipper Gary Bennett.

Midfielder Steven, who joined SAFC last year, told the audience: “Coming from South Africa I did experience racism growing up and it’s not nice.

“It’s always important that when you get home you tell your mum or dad or a teacher about it so something can be done.

Marsden Primary School pupils at the event.

Marsden Primary School pupils at the event.

“But yes, it hurts a lot if you get abuse.”

Former Sunderland skipper Gary said: “Anyone can suffer from racism.

“It doesn’t matter what skin colour they are, what culture, religion or nationality they have.

“It’s always usually something who is in the minority who is affected to.

From left Justine King, former SAFC Gary Bennett, Unison's Emma Jenkinson and SAFC players Papy Djilobodji and Steven Pienaar.

From left Justine King, former SAFC Gary Bennett, Unison's Emma Jenkinson and SAFC players Papy Djilobodji and Steven Pienaar.

“When people ask me how racism makes me feel I’d say it’s uncomfortable.”

Steven added: “It is important for the club to support and tackle the issue of racism in football.

“We need to help educate young people to promote inclusion in the game and help break down the barriers not just in football but across society.

“Show Racism the Red Card deserve a lot of recognition for the role they have played for over two decades in helping to create a more tolerant and inclusive environment and I am proud to play a part in that.”

The anti-racism charity was created in 1996 and now delivers training to more than 50,000 individuals per year.

James Kingett, campaign worker with the organisation, said: “It’s great that the pupils have been involved throughout the day and had the chance to hear from Papy and Steven.

“Hopefully they’ve learned that it’s OK to talk about racism and its problems, as long as it’s done in the right way.”

Youngsters from Marsden Primary and Laygate Community schools in South Shields attended the event.