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Dulwich Hamlet to mark international celebration

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Dulwich Hamlet's fans and officials are looking forward to celebrating International Women's Day this weekend when they host East Thurrock United in the Ryman League's top flight.

The celebration of women's economic, political, and social achievements has taken place every year on March 8 since 1909 and Hamlet are set to burnish their growing reputation as one of football's most inclusive clubs and mark the event 24 hours earlier at Champion Hill by offering free admission to women's teams and their supporters.

In partnership with the Dulwich Hamlet Supporters’ Trust, the south London club has already been at the forefront of nationwide efforts to kick racism and homophobia out of the football this season.

Back in September, the club became the first in Non-League to announce that they were taking part in Stonewall's 'Rainbow Laces' campaign by lacing up their boots with rainbow-coloured laces. Along with clubs from the Premier League down, Gavin Rose's side subsequently donned the special laces for their FA Cup clash with Worthing.

On Non-League Day 2014, Hamlet were also one of only four clubs chosen by anti-racism group Kick It Out to represent them as an ambassador club. In January the club's supporters group then unveiled a new anti-discrimination banner at Champion Hill to reinforce their commitment to challenging prejudice after applying for a grant to FARE, the European-wide anti-discrimination network.

The DHST used the grant to produce two Dulwich Hamlet and Altona 93 anti-homophobia banners, one of which is on permanent display behind the Dog Kennel Hill end of their stadium with the other on display at their sister club in Hamburg.

The raising of the banner also marked the start of a series of activities to champion the inclusion of LGBT people through football with February's home league match against the Metropolitan Police featuring a free ticket initiative for LGBT fans.

Both the club and the DHST are proud of their firm self-policed stance against any sexist, homophobic or racist abuse and are now preparing for their latest initiative to build community links and their fan base.

Claudia Jukes, head of sponsorship & charity liaison at Dulwich Hamlet, is also raising money for Women's Solace Aid, both at the game and by running a half marathon at the end of this month.

She said: “We have made it clear this season that we are not just campaigning against discrimination, but are actively encouraging all of our community to attend our games. The anti-homophobia friendly versus Stonewall FC was testament to this, and the free ticket offer to new LGBT fans that followed.

"We are therefore delighted to continue to underline the message that Champion Hill is a great place to come for women by supporting International Women’s Day. Come and be part of our community.”

Mel Hughes, a regular fan, said: “I’ve been coming to Champion Hill for over 10 years and have always been made to feel welcome by the club staff and fellow fans.

"I am therefore really pleased that the club are providing free tickets to local girls and women's football teams. The Rabble is for all – no matter your gender, sexuality, race, ability or creed.”

Source: www.isthmian.co.uk

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