SHE may only be 11, but talented Jade Barnes is already an award-winning writer after penning a powerful short story about racism and the beautiful game.
Jade, a pupil at St Saviour CE Primary School in Ringley, was chosen out of hundreds of entries in the Write to Unite creative writing competition, netting one of only two winning places in the 11 to 14 category.
The competition was organised by the Kick it Out and encouraged young people to illustrate how football can unite people, regardless of background, through poetry, stories, songs and other forms of writing.
Jade said: “I really enjoy writing and it is one of my favourite subjects.
“The story is about racism in football and how we can kick it out. It took me about 45 minutes to write.”
She added: “I do play a little football but not much and, although this story was a little harder to write than others I have written, it wasn’t too difficult and I entered the competition just because I enjoy writing. I like writing about everything.”
She was told by teachers she had won her age category and was invited to Leyton Orient FC in London with other prize winners, chosen by a panel including sports writer Anthony Clavane and poet and author Musa Okwonga, as well as Arsenal and England Women’s star Jordan Nobbs.
Jade said: “I was really proud and happy when I was told I had won.
“It was really good going down to Leyton Orient. My prizes included writing books, a T-shirt, and wristbands.”
St Saviour headteacher Ian Southern said: “We are delighted such a wonderful piece of work got the recognition it deserved.
“It is also pleasing such a delightful young lady has represented St Saviour’s in this positive way. We are all very proud of her.”
Musa Okwonga said: “I think it’s important that Kick It Out uses language to engage with people because football is a sport of languages — slogans, chants, banners and all the rest of it, so to be using those techniques to push the anti-racism message is really powerful.”
Segregation, discrimination, Football! By Jade Barnes, aged 11
I shivered, in the cold, damp, eerie, weather.
I was dressed in light blue shorts and white polo-neck. As I wrapped a scarf around my neck, it slithered like a snake.
I pulled up my socks up to my knees, but they slid back down again. I started to run through the whistling wind.
Suddenly, I looked up and saw a big ring fence, below the stadium.
“Oi, you come here, you were meant to be playing 10 minutes ago,” I heard a man’s voice shout at me.
I ran into the light blue stadium, on to the beautiful green grass. I stood in the middle of the pitch. The referee stood waiting for me and threw the football at the misty air.
“Wait a minute,” the player opposite me said. I stood still in horror. The referee gestured as the player walked towards the ref.
I walked towards him as well.
But he said: “Not you, you dirty piece of filth.”
I stood drowned in depression, a tear dropping from my eye, when the manager told me that we need to talk.
I turned and smiled at him and followed him off the pitch. He told me not to worry about it, because I wouldn’t be playing any more.
I knew why, it was because of my skin. The dark colour it is.
I had already been put down because of this before. I was used to it by now. But I wouldn’t let this bring me down.
I went to the overgrown fields in the distance, and I set up my own football club.
I painted the pitch lines after cutting the beautiful green grass. Then I gathered a group of people together. I didn’t care what colour skin they had, or if they had a disability.
I didn’t care because we are all one. Now I still run the club. Sometimes we get the odd team that won’t play against us.
But we don’t mind, we just think to ourselves, they don’t know the true meaning of football. They don’t know it unites us.
So please, if this is happening to you, join a chat group, or even better a football club. And remember, the beautiful grass, is always greener on the other side.