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Interview with County With Pride chairperson Adam Smith

9 December 2021

The impact of football on and off the pitch is unquestionable and Newport County AFC is an all-inclusive community club based in a city which offers a rich cultural tapestry of our supporters.

We are delighted to be celebrating and supporting our LGBTQI+ community and are proud to work with many fans through our ‘County with Pride’ supporters’ group, many of whom are able to join us for our fixture today. Earlier this week we caught up with Adam Smith, Chairperson of Newport County AFC’s ‘County with Pride’, Newport County’s LGBTQI+ inclusive group that's made up by the fans to help shape the support available to our supporters and ensure people feel welcome and accepted at games.

Adam clearly expressed how important LGBTQI+ inclusion is, as prejudice continues to be seen on a day-to-day basis and is particularly prominent within sport due to a lack of LGBTQI+ role models. County with Pride strives to show LGBTQI+ fans that we do welcome those from the community to our club and you have nothing to worry about or fear in attending a football match at our grounds.

“I faced quite a bit of hate and prejudice to the point where I often felt uncomfortable in certain situations or at certain places. So, when Newport County reached out to create this group, I fully supported it because I could relate to those feelings” Adam said.

Adam believes it is part of his duty to the community to step up and make all parts of Newport, a friendlier place for the LGBTQI+ community and emphasises how this must be a community effort as ‘if hate goes unchallenged it simply becomes the norm’. It is clear that significant progress has been made in the football community in recent years and Newport County AFC is committed to ensuring they play a pivotal role in encouraging this progressive attitude.

Our fixture today is going to be a significant milestone for the ‘County with Pride’ group as we support the EFL’s and Stonewall’s rainbow laces campaign. The Rainbow Laces campaign focuses on promoting acceptance of LGBTQI+ footballers, fans, and participants within professional clubs. Specific matchday activity will include Rainbow coloured corner flags, captain armbands and substitution board stickers alongside wider LGBTQ+ inclusion activities such as shining a spotlight on several charities and organisations such as ‘Rainbow Newport’ who will be in attendance. ‘County with Pride’ members will also be at this game and would be delighted to answer any questions and discuss how to get involved with their campaigns.

Adam was pleasantly surprised by his own first experience attending of a Newport County match at Rodney Parade having had initial trepidations due to the stigma surrounding the LGBTQI+ community in football. However, upon entering the stand he was completely embraced, feeling valued, safe, and supported. He particularly loved the atmosphere of the crowd and before he knew it, he was up on his feet cheering along, something he would never have typically expected from himself: ‘I want everyone to experience that buzz of being part of a crowd no matter your identity which is why I’m delighted to be a part of County with Pride’.

Adam encourages any LGBTQI+ fans attending their first match to just be themselves and be relaxed but know that if you do feel uncomfortable there are always outlets for support in and around the ground as we all want to ensure that you to be confident and comfortable in the fact that you will have an amazing first experience as your true authentic self.

The ultimate goal for ‘County with Pride’ is to increase confidence for members of LGBTQI+ community that they will feel welcome and safe at Newport County matches. Adam is clear that we are building on these foundations, and he is excited to see where this will take the club and footballing community.

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