During a recent trip north for a friendly fixture, Reading’s Under-15 squad took the opportunity to visit the International Slavery Museum in Liverpool.
After a six-hour coach journey up to Burnley for a well-contested game on Saturday – in which our boys twice battled back from behind to draw 3-3 – the players and coaches made the journey to Merseyside the following day to learn about both historical and contemporary slavery.
The visit to the museum – which is situated in Liverpool’s Albert Dock and just yards away from where slave trading ships were fitted and repaired in the 18th century – is part of a bespoke educational programme for our U15 side.
It was the first instalment of a season-long programme for our youngsters that is themed around freedom and justice, sacrifice, togetherness and appreciating opportunity.
It was a chance to see exhibitions and hear talks about life in West Africa, enslavement and the ‘Middle Passage’ of slaves transported to the New World, and the legacy of slavery on modern society. It also gave the team an opportunity to consider obstacles that have been overcome to battle injustice and the resilience that people have shown in incredibly tough situations.
The players came up with some great reflections from these activities and how they can use their sporting, social and education opportunities to continue to benefit themselves as developing Academy players, and young people.
Next year, the team will visit Ghana for some football fixtures as well as visiting sites of historical significance in a country which was impacted hugely as a consequence of the transatlantic slave trade. Between 1650 and 1900, over 1 million enslaved Africans were transported from the Gold Coast (the name of Ghana before its independence in 1957) to the Americas.
Academy manager Ged Roddy said: “The visit to the International Slavery Museum was hugely insightful and educational for the players and staff, and feeds into the wider ethos of our Academy of developing rounded, humble and open-minded people.
“This will be the first time that many of the players have visited a museum of this nature, and it was brilliant to see how actively they engaged with an emotive and poignant subject matter.”
Martin Dean, Lead Youth Development Phase Coach, added: “Our trip to the International Slavery Museum touched on the themes of integration and appreciation - it gave our youngsters an experience that contributes towards our aim of developing outstanding young people as well as players."