Doon Academy staff and pupils recently held their first ever ‘football versus homophobia’ day to tackle stigmas in football and in society as a whole.

More than 120 people took part in the day, with rainbow colours on show as a sign of their ongoing efforts to change people’s perceptions.

The day was part of Doon Academy’s progress towards their LGBT Youth Scotland Silver Charter award.

Cumnock Chronicle: The official Football v Homophobia ball which was used throughout the Academy’s activities (@Doonacad)The official Football v Homophobia ball which was used throughout the Academy’s activities (@Doonacad)

Having already taken part in a lot of great work, the school decided to skip the bronze category and head straight for silver.

The project, which will last between 12 and 18 months, will see the school ensure that they are as visible, helpful and supportive as they can be for pupils who are keen on discussing their sexuality.

After the success of this particular footballing day, the school will plan to make it an annual event, taking place at the end of February every year, to celebrate LGBT history month.

Academy guidance teacher Steven Kelly has been a driving force in the school’s inclusivity work – and described the day as one of the proudest in his career.

Cumnock Chronicle: The trophy and medal collectionThe trophy and medal collection

He told the Chronicle: “It was amazing day and I really don’t think it could’ve gone much better.

“Apart from a slight change in the weather then the day was as good as it could’ve been.

“I knew when the idea came about that the day would be a success, because the pupils and staff have been so keen to make a change and stance against these stigmas.

“But seeing the day actually pan out the way it did was a completely different story. It was definitely one of the best days, if not the best day, of my professional career.

“We had support from the local Co-op who donated towards our trophy and medal collections.

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“There was a mixture of laughter, joy, excitement and a feeling of coming together to send a message and to try and stamp out homophobia, not just from football, but from society as a whole.

“The pupils were amazing, but we had a lot of staff supporting us as well, which is always great to see. It can bring about a real culture change when it’s not just the younger ones looking to get involved.

“We’re really keen to build on the success of this and ensure something like this isn’t just a one-off.

Cumnock Chronicle: The champion trophyThe champion trophy

“As part of our whole silver journey, we’ve got a lot of good stuff planned to show how serious we really are about making these changes as a school.

“I’m so proud of everyone who took and who helped out, and to everyone sent us a message of good luck and things like.

“It was a great day for everyone, but now we’re focused on continuing this journey as well as we can”.