To our membership,
I wanted to write this open letter to all of you, our members, in light of recent events that occurred inside and outside of our football family.
We are living in strange times; COVID-19 has made us look at how we live and how we go about our daily lives differently, and it is becoming the “new norm”.
It has affected our sport and we are putting the plans in place, with a roadmap, to return to play so you can enjoy football again.
It is a slow process but, like everything we have done as a board over the past three years, it will be done to the best of our abilities, with the outside expertise we need from our sporting partners, and with the greatest ease and safety for you and your clubs.
Over the last few weeks there has been a global movement against racism. As an association we have not responded. I wanted to take my time to think about what I would say but my lack of words has spoken louder than anything I could have said. I have always considered AFI as a progressive and inclusive association and I am proud that our membership is made up of such a diverse group of people.
I have seen so many words, in the past couple of weeks, to explain how people are feeling including statements from departments within our own association. The words I wish to see more the use of are respect when we practice diversity and inclusivity, and integrity in doing the right thing even when no one is looking.
It has become evident to me that we need to be doing more. As an association, we need to reinforce our core values and beliefs, we need to provide a safe and welcoming environment for everyone who takes part in our sport.
To many it may look like that, as an association, we are not doing anything and are staying silent, but the board has been working together for many weeks to introduce a new diversity project and for that we need your help.
Over the coming weeks, we will be contacting our members to learn about your experiences while participating in the sport. We will be appointing a workgroup to consider the feedback and use those learnings to develop an action plan to ultimately promote and grow respect for diversity within our association, starting within our clubs upward. We want to establish a safe and supportive environment and platform for our members to express their views.
I understand that we need to do better. We, as a national governing body, need to be leaders in setting the standard. Campaigns come and go; social media posts and profiles change daily and there will always be another good cause to support. Our plan for diversity will live on and become part of our association. It will become part of who we are, and we will speak as one voice across the different elements of our association. I call on you all to help us and make it a living reality.
American Football Ireland