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Equality, Diversity and Inclusion

Our commitment to equality, diversity and inclusion

Equality of opportunity is a basic human right and Durham FA actively opposes all forms of discrimination. 

Durham County FA recognises that individuals and communities may experience unlawful discrimination on the grounds of their sex, age, disability, ethnicity (including nationality and race), gender-reassignment, sexual orientation, religion and belief, pregnancy and maternity, marriage and civil partnership status (from Equality Act 2010). Individuals, families and communities may also encounter socio-economic challeneges which can affect participation.

We celebrate diversity within society and across our region and will continue to work to promote and reflect that diversity within Durham County FA structures and activities is at the forefront. Durham County FA Board, Staff and members are committed to increasing opportunity for all and increasing the involvement of all diverse communities, at all levels of grassroots football, by taking positive steps to address any barriers. It is essential for equality and inclusion to be reflected with our project planning, organisation and delivery to provide opportunities and increase participation. 

Click here to download The Durham FA equality policy

We will continue to challenge discrimination of all kinds across grassroots football to make the game ‘For All’. Every participant has the right to play the game with confidence and without prejudice, regardless of ability and background.  
Durham County FA will investigate all reports of discriminatory language and/or behaviour across our football community. If you wish to make a complaint with regard to discrimination contact in the first instance;

Equality and Inclusion is an integral part of the work we do at Durham County FA which is, in part, demonstrated by our active Inclusion and Advisory Group (IAG) which has first came into being at the end of 2016.

broad based Inclusion Action Plan is being developed through 2021 aimed at bringing together the existing work strands of our IAG; to promote our broad equality agenda which will link to the FA’s four strategic goals of Growth and Retention, Better Players, Running the Game and Raising Standards.


Get in touch

 Michael Bell 1

Michael Bell
Designated Safeguarding Officer

Richard Hughes 

Richard Hughes
Assistant Designated Safeguarding Officer (Part Time)

T: 0191 3872928 (Option 1 then Option 1)

Inclusion and Advisory Group (IAG)

Durham County FA developed an Inclusion Advisory Group (IAG) in 2016 with the first meeting of that group taking place on 7th November 2016. The group has continued to meet every three months since that time apart from during 2020 due to Covid-19. 

The purpose of our IAG is to support and advise Durham County Football Association; to increase awareness, understanding and knowledge of equality, diversity and inclusion so that the organisation can better engage with and thereby better meet the needs of all of our local football communities to help to ensure involvement in the game is available to everyone. 

Increasing involvement and increasing diversity in local grassroots football will also improve our football talent pool. 

At present, we have sixteen members sitting upon the IAG from a range of backgrounds; including independent members and staff representatives from Durham County FA.

Reports of the work of the IAG are made to Durham County FA Board and Council through the IAG Chair – which for 2021-22 is an Independent Member.

The group work to a Development Plan, which is formed from the work of IAG thematic sub-groups, to steer the work and ensure focus. There are four thematic sub-groups in place through 2021 addressing - Women&Girls; Disability; BAME and LGBT+.

When the group formed in 2016, John Topping, Company Secretary with Durham County FA commented “The IAG has been developed by Durham County FA, involving a number of representatives who can contribute to a range of important issues facing grassroots football, to help our County FA move forward and develop footballing opportunities for everyone in our communities.”

That statement still holds true today and reflects the work undertaken.

Inclusion Advisory Group Members

Born in Newcastle's West End I attended school and College before leaving aged 19yrs in 1986 to work with HM Customs at Heathrow Airport. Whilst in London I played football for London Airports in national competitions and also in Asian tournaments, nationally representing the Borough of Hounslow.

I returned to the North East in 1992 and joined the Police Service representing both Northumbria and Cleveland in numerous roles. I attended Northumbria University (p/t) and obtained a LLB (law) Honours. I also embarked on a referee career attaining level 4 and described by many as firm but fair (except my son who never likes me shouting advantage!)

I retired in 2019 as a Chief Inspector having spent 3yrs with Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabulary Fire and Rescue Service as an inspection officer. I'm presently working for Durham County Council within residential and safeguarding. I believe in equality of opportunity and working positively with partners.


“We rise, by Lifting Others – Robert Ingersoll”

I am the Executive Manager of Young Asian Voices (YAV) a Multicultural charitable project (established 1996) for youth and community in Sunderland. Born in Sri Lanka and raised in the city of Sunderland I studied at St Aidan RC School, Sunderland College and the University of Sunderland. I champion equality, social inclusion, equal opportunity and diversity in Sunderland and successfully transformed Young Asian Voices from a small charity providing opportunities for the Bangladeshi community in Sunderland, into a fully inclusive Multicultural Project which is also a hub for intercultural, intergenerational and intersectional activity that integrates communities and is a springboard for opportunities and social/personal development including training and employment. 

I strive to make inclusion a normality and diversity a strength; and seek to create positive platforms for young people to grow and the community to thrive.


I have worked at Durham County FA since 2015 and have been involved with the Coach Education courses, Football Development administration including Finance, Wildcats, The Girls Player Development Centre, Safeguarding and more recently Discipline, IAG and Equality Standard. I am a new member of the IAG and am minuting IAG meetings going forward. Prior to this I studied for a degree at the University of Lincoln and a MA at The University of Central Lancashire. I am a qualified Level 2 coach and am involved in coaching in grassroots football in my spare time.

Made 443 professional appearances, Captain of Sunderland AFC for 5 years , Patron of Show Racism the Red Card for over 20years, Patron of Mind, Ambassador for Durham County FA, Ambassador for the City of Sunderland, Ambassador for St Benedicts Hospice, Manager of Darlington Football Club for 18 months, Joint manager at Exeter City, Director of MGB Academy with Martin Gray. Volunteer at SCSK Sunderland Community Soup Kitchen, supporter of the charity Help Me Out North East which concerns Domestic Abuse, Coach at University of Sunderland, Coach of Westend Ladies football club , Director of Back 2 Basics Coaching Company, work with BBC Radio Newcastle; and also involved in a range of local projects across the North-East

I am a full-time student studying Sports Development at Northumbria University. I represent Youth Leadership on the IAG group alongside my roles of Chairperson for Durham FA Youth Council and Northern Community Engagement Lead on the FA’s National Youth Council. This allows me to give an insight in to Youth Leadership within football. I have lots of knowledge of football from playing for the last 10 years to also having experience in coaching football with both adults and young people.

I have always had an interest in grass roots football, playing both for my regiment in the British Army and then, player manager of a team in the local Sunday league.  l am more recently known as founder of Durham Pride UK and I am passionate in promoting equality for the LGBT+ community across Durham, Darlington, and the United Kingdom.  Through my work with Pride, l hope to raise awareness to improve responses for members of the LGBT+ community, promoting the benefits of true inclusion in all walks of life.  Through my work, I strive to bring agencies together to help identify improvements they can make for people who identify as LGBT+, their families, friends and their many allies.

I have been involved in grassroots football for over ten years, the last four of which have included being a volunteer with DCFA Inclusion Advisory Group. I have managed mixed teams of all age groups through to national league level within women’s football and am currently Football Development Manager at Billingham Synthonia Women and Girls FC. Professionally, I have worked within social housing for the majority of my career before joining the Department of Education as a Civil Servant delivering capital programmes. My prime areas of focus are Women and Girls Football and child poverty.

I have worked at the County FA since April 2004 and during that time I held a number of Development and Safeguarding roles, these included Assistant Football Development Officer with a focus on Disability Football and Assistant Designated Safeguarding Officer. I was also an FA Tutor delivering both the FA Safeguarding Children and FA Welfare Officer Workshops for 13 years up until December 2020.

I have been the Referee Development Officer for Durham County FA since December 2018. I have a passion for developing referees and prior to my appointment as Referee Development Officer I have been a mentor and coach for numerous Durham County FA Referees. I am a level 3 referee officiating in the Northern Premier League and a Step 1 Assistant Referee in the National League and PL2. I have a Masters in Law from Northumbria University as well as a Postgraduate Certificate in International Sports Management also from Northumbria. My background includes working in the National Prison and Probation Service and as a Trainee Solicitor.