Openreach teams up with inclusive Glasgow football team

OR Glasgow Saints 02

An inclusive football club, which gives Glaswegians from all different backgrounds a safe place to play the game, is teaming up with Openreach, the UK’s largest broadband network.

A new, 12-month partnership will see the digital network company supporting Glasgow Saints FC by funding new training kit and match balls. 

The Dennistoun-based club – which has two teams playing in the Glasgow Community & Co-Operative Football League and a women’s team – was founded as a charity in 2020.

The club’s motto is ‘football for everyone’. Players and coaches are from various cultural, religious and financial backgrounds, with asylum seekers and refugees among those in the squad.

The new partnership reflects Openreach’s commitment to become a more diverse and inclusive business, where everyone feels valued and supported for who they are.

Glasgow Saints aims to help tackle isolation and food poverty and is also engaged in local social initiatives. Players and staff commit to one hour of volunteering each month and take part in fundraisers for good causes in Glasgow.

Laurie Keith, a project manager at Openreach, has been involved with Glasgow Saints since it was founded. As well as being the manager for one of the squads, he also develops the club’s culture on and off the field.

“We want to be competitive, but there’s more to it than that,” explains Laurie. “We want to give our players a safe space to play football, regardless of where they’re from, their religion, their sexuality, their financial status.”

Laurie nominated the club for an Openreach partnership after noticing the alignment between the goals of Glasgow Saints and Openreach.

“I was ecstatic when I heard we’d been successful,” he adds. “For someone else to recognise what we’re trying to do and how good it is – that kind of validates what we’re trying to achieve as a club. I was also excited because it’s Openreach. When things align and you’re working with someone who thinks the same way that you do, that can only be beneficial.”

The new collaboration follows an Openreach partnership launched with Colchester Kings RFC, East Anglia’s first gay and inclusive rugby club, in December 2022.

Following that deal, Openreach’s people networks – which celebrate and represent employees from all backgrounds – chose additional clubs throughout the UK to work with.

The Openreach people networks – Pride, Gender Equality, Ethnic Diversity, Neurodiversity (NDN) and recently-created Able 2 network – were set up to help develop an inclusive workplace, prioritising education and change, and challenging thinking when needed. The people networks have grown significantly since launching and more than 7000 people are now members of one or more.

Scott Room, Openreach’s director of Brand, Marketing and Digital, said: “We’re proud to be partnering with Glasgow Saints Football Club. They’re a great example of the positive impact inclusive sports clubs can have on local communities and people, no matter their background or situation. 

“At Openreach, we’re committed to becoming a more diverse and inclusive business which truly reflects the communities we serve. As Scotland’s largest employer of telecoms engineers, we want to use our size to help make positive changes, and improve diversity in the engineering sector and in the communities where we operate.

“Our aim with this partnership is to support a club that’s making a real difference in their local community. We hope we can help the Saints smash their goals.”

The company, which is currently extending its Ultrafast Full Fibre broadband network across the UK, is also partnering with Bournville-based Crusaders FC’s youth girls’ teams; Cardiff Dragons, Wales’s first LGBTI+ football club; and Everett Rovers Football Club in Watford, which runs a team for players with disabilities.