Several FA employees joined our local community at Neasden Temple last week to celebrate Diwali and the Hindu New Year.
Neasden Temple, which is located just a mile from Wembley Stadium, opened in 1995 and welcomes thousands of visitors each year from various faiths and backgrounds.
And Dal Darroch (Head of EDI Strategic Programmes), Saira Mirza (Corporate Social Responsibility Manager) and James MacDougall, (Head of Corporate Affairs) joined the community for the celebration, which signifies the triumph of light over darkness and knowledge over ignorance.
Head priest Swami Yogvivek welcomed the team and encouraged a future relationship between the FA and the temple.
This year's celebrations were also in tribute to the mandir's creator, His Holiness Pramukh Swami Maharaj, on the occasion of his centennial birth anniversary.
Over 30,000 people attended the temple over two days of praying and giving thanks for the blessings of the year that has passed and asking for blessings in the New Year ahead.
Festivities included the 'annakut', a large selection of food items prepared by devotees as an offering in thanksgiving to God, while a tour was given and a meal was shared together.
The visit formed part of our year-round efforts to bring faith and football closer together. Working with partners and community groups, we want to ensure that the game is accessible and welcoming for everyone, and that everybody can play a part in our game with confidence and without prejudice, regardless of their ability and background.
This year, the FA has worked with various faith communities marking Ramadan, Easter and Vaisakhi as part of the religious calendar in Islam, Christianity and Sikhism respectively.
Dal Darroch discussed our faith and football work and highlighted the importance of being part of the celebrations with our neighbours to build a stronger relationship with the local community.
“The work that Neasden Temple does aligns with our core values,” he said.
“It’s a neighbour of Wembley Stadium, so we were delighted to visit once again to spend time with the local community in what is a significant date in the Hindu, Jain and Sikh calendars.
“As the nation’s number one sport, we know that football has an incredible power to bring people together, eradicate social barriers and be a force for good across communities. We’re passionate about bringing faith and football closer together and we will continue to engage with our local communities as we look to grow participation in our game, both on and off the pitch.”
Trustee of Neasden Temple, Girish Patel, added: “We’re privileged to have members of the FA join thousands of devotees to celebrate Diwali and New Year at Neasden Temple. We hope that our friendship as Wembley and Brent neighbours will grow stronger and I offer my thanks to Dal, James and Saira for spending time with us. It was a fantastic day of celebrations.”
The FA recently marked 2022 South Asian Heritage Month by publishing an update on phase two of our Asian inclusion strategy, Bringing Opportunities to Communities, as well as releasing the latest episode of our latest Football and Me content series featuring England player Demi Stokes and two female players of Asian heritage – Kira Rai of Derby County County FC Women and Mariam Mahmood of West Bromwich Albion FC Women.
The strategy aims to increase Asian participation across all levels of English football, both on and off the pitch, with programmes and targets set against five strategic pillars.
Asian communities make up the biggest ethnic minority community in England, and while we’re seeing more Asian people playing, coaching and refereeing within the game, continuing to grow these participation levels remains a strategic priority for our organisation.
In addition, we have also now published the 2022-23 editions of our equality, diversity and inclusion calendar for grassroots football and our ‘Faith and Football’ educational document, which are designed to help participants make the game more inclusive and truly welcoming for their local communities.