Huddersfield Town Foundation’s University of South Wales student is a Proud Terrier

 “I really want to help in the fight to eradicate homophobia from football,” says Ryan Mather, a first year student on the University of South Wales and EFL Trust Foundation Degree in Community Football Coaching and Development with Huddersfield Town Foundation.”

Ryan is a life-long Huddersfield Town fan and very ‘Proud Terrier’. Here is Ryan’s story…in his own words…

“I am a big Huddersfield Town fan and I have been all my life. I am an openly gay football fan and I’ve witnessed homophobia and really wanted to establish a movement to inspire a new generation of fans and create culture in which homophobia doesn’t exist.

A few years back at a Huddersfield Town vs Brighton game, which was our Rainbow Laces fixture, there was homophobic chanting from the Town end to the Brighton fans. This was the most uncomfortable I have ever felt at a game and this incident left me feeling upset, angry and so disappointed. Being made to feel like this has led to me having several panic attacks and has impacted by mental health. If I I’m feeling this, then others within our community will feel the same.

I made it my mission ultimately to create a culture of inclusion in football and develop more of an accepting atmosphere throughout the ground and community as a whole. My starting point was to create a real identity for the group and came up with ‘Proud Terriers’. I started with a logo and then created a Twitter page for the group. At the time I already knew someone at the Football Club and so I reached out to him to tell him about my ideas and to see how he could support us.

Huddersfield Town Football Club was really quick to support our mission. I will always appreciate the club support because knowing the club I have supported all of my life is now supporting me is truly surreal and a dream come true. I know how much work went in to get my ‘Proud Terriers’ flag up in to the stadium…they never gave up and always kept trying and I was so emotional and proud when it finally went up.

I took inspiration from other LGBT+ fan groups at the very beginning and as time went on I started to feel that real true support from the different groups up and down the country. Knowing we are always there for each other when we are all fighting to change football for people for the better really means a lot and we can really develop ideas together to implement in to our own clubs.

I was also keen to develop partnerships with our local schools and colleges so I reached out to Huddersfield New College’s manager of equality and diversity, who welcomed us and we started to develop a partnership including us being invited to their equality and diversity weeks and giving out some rainbow laces to the sports team. We have other great support networks too including the Huddersfield Daily Examiner, Kick it Out, Stonewall and Football v Homophobia.

The work we do is so important right now because there is a big issue within our game surrounding homophobia and things have to change. I want to keep raising awareness and educating more and more people to think twice about their actions on the terraces. I want to create a safe space for fellow fans and to make them feel welcome even though the environment around us isn’t always making us feel welcome right now. I wanted to make a big difference because being so passionate about it…it means a lot to me.

You can find out more by following Proud Terriers on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram @ProudTerriers or email Ryan and the team at proudterriers08@gmail.com.