United Dartmouth Football Club (UDFC) has been a club partner with the Halifax Wanderers since the inaugural year in 2019.
HFX Wanderers FC Inclusion Partner Ebony Langford sat down with our Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Manager Marvin Okello during Black History Month. Ebony discusses the changes she would like to see in the soccer community and how local clubs can collaborate with the Wanderers in creating a diverse, inclusive, equitable and accessible environment for all involved.
Marvin Okello: What is your role at UDFC?
Ebony Langford: I currently play multiple roles at United DFC, I am a member of the Board of Directors, the chair of the Equity Diversity and Inclusion committee, and I am also a parent. My daughter plays on the U15AAA girls team as well. I have been an active member of the club for the last 10 years.
Why did you decide to get involved with UDFC in a volunteer capacity initially?
EL: I initially decided to become involved with UDFC in a volunteer capacity when I was approached by a member of the board in 2020. Following that, we collectively decided that I would Chair the Equity Diversity and Inclusion committee.
What are you doing to nurture diversity, equity and inclusion at UDFC?
EL: Our goal as a committee is to ensure that as a club, we are embracing Equity Diversity and Inclusion in policy and in programming. We strive to have this as part of that foundation of who we are as a club, while welcoming all individuals to participate in soccer. We strive to promote diversity, and foster an inclusive and accessible environment, and try to eliminate barriers allowing all players to experience the love of the game.
What do you enjoy most about Wanderers matches?
EL: The atmosphere is what I enjoy most about the Wanderers matches. The stadium is filled with people of all ages, backgrounds, and beliefs united and experiencing professional soccer and the love of the game! The excitement, and the energy during these matches is a remarkable experience.
What changes would you like to see happen in the soccer community in Nova Scotia?
EL: I would like to see the soccer community in Nova Scotia embody a more inclusive environment. I believe that it is important for athletes to be able to see other members, coaches, directors and players that look like them. We need to make certain that the right processes are in place to recruit numerous coaches, mentors and players of a diverse background and provide them with the support to ensure their success and to retain them. There are also financial barriers that players may face when pursuing soccer, and with the right initiatives in place the soccer community can help alleviate this as a hurdle.
When a player graduates from the UDFC youth programs, what values do you want them to embody? What have your programs equipped them with?
EL: Our mission is to promote and grow the sport of soccer in our communities, creating pathways and opportunities for players and volunteers to be involved in soccer for life, so for us our main commitment is to ensure players enjoy their soccer experience and want to stay involved throughout their life. We also value accountability, accessibility, excellence and respect, so our objective as club leaders is to make sure that is reflected in our programming and leadership. An example of our commitment to this is our renewed focus on True Sport Principles. We’ve been selecting a “True Sport Teams” of the month featuring members who embody key principles. February’s focus, for example, is on staying healthy. Our aim is to showcase members that live our values through the True Sport principles to help encourage everyone to develop those value sets and carry them forward into our communities.
What education do you provide your coaches and staff with in relation to DEIA?
EL: We are in the process of developing a strategy for Equity Diversity and Inclusion education for the board, staff, and volunteers. Our committee is in the process of reviewing key resources that would assist UDFC in furthering Equity Diversity and Inclusion best practices and implementing policies, procedures and support for staff volunteers and board members.
Has the Halifax Wanderers Football Club impacted your programs and development of players at UDFC?
EL: The Halifax Wanderers Football Club helps support our club through their guest coaching initiative, allowing players to come out to coach our teams. This mentorship demonstrates to our players what they can accomplish through their soccer journey. The impact is everlasting, and we look forward to watching it grow. I am also excited to work with the Wanderers Diversity, Equity and Inclusion committee to continue the education for members, coaches and staff.
What’s your favorite experience/moment you have had in your role at UDFC?
EL: In my role at United DFC my favorite experience or moment has been being part of the club, both as a member and as a volunteer. United DFC truly embraces their membership regardless of their role and creates an environment that makes you feel like you are part of something bigger, like being part of a family. The people that are a part of this club are passionate about soccer at every level and are committed to doing their absolute best in every decision, program, and policy. The passion for the game and the love for the club is what makes us united and truly makes UDFC an extraordinary club to be part of!