On Wednesday 27 April, over 2000 young people came together with a group of Academy players from Middlesbrough Academy FC as the Teesside Trailblazers to champion racial justice in their schools and across the Teesside area.

Two hybrid events took place in-person and online – one for Primary schools and another for Secondary schools – to take action towards racial justice. Racial Justice Charters were created at the events, to make change in their classrooms, their playgrounds, their football pitches and their communities.

The events were hosted by Middlesbrough FC U18s player George Gitau and journalism lecturer Dekan Apajee, with other players – Ash, Luke, Tyler, Yacou, Frankie and Alfonso dialing in direct from schools Red Hall Primary in Darlington, Bewley Primary School in Stockton-on-Tees, Easterside Academy in Middlesbrough, Hurworth School School in Darlington, High Tunstall College of Science in Hartlepool and Nunthorpe Academy in Middlesbrough. Other schools across the region dialed in to participate in the discussion and create their own Charters and make a commitment to racial justice.

The events were interactive and participatory with schools engaging with the U18s from Middlesbrough FC as well as young people from other schools.

“The children absolutely loved it”


Year 5 from Fens Primary in Hartlepool said: “We, as students, commit to standing up and defending others by being their allies. We will achieve this by respecting others and teaching others how to show respect.”

Making Change with Racial Justice Charters

The events will galvanise hundreds of young people across Teesside to take part and make a change towards racial justice. One school said:

“To begin our mission, we have posted a photo of the class engaging with the meeting yesterday & the children are currently making our charter into a large poster to display in school for parents/carers to sign & our headteacher is making arrangements for us to go into the community to get more signatures. Thanks again”

Role Models

The Teesside Trailblazers group from Boro are passionate about tackling racism with other young people. By becoming the Teesside Trailblazers, the Middlesbrough Academy boys acted as role models to the young people to take action inspired by their own experiences.

“My teammates and I love playing football together but we’re also Teesside Trailblazers – Racial Justice champions. We’ve experienced racism within our own football club, and we as a team decided it had to stop. So we set up the Teesside Trailblazers Racial Justice Summit.”

Here’s a short film about why they got involved:

Today has been a moving, breathtaking heart-warming thing. This is something I will remember from my time at the Club. We inspired people. Today we changed people’s minds in a really positive way.

We have skills on the pitch, but we also have feelings and experiences which we shared today.
We moved other people today; that has moved me.

Middlesbrough FC U18s player and Teesside Trailblazer George Gitau said:

Following the events, one primary school and one secondary school will have a chance to visit the Middlesbrough FC training ground as a result of outstanding work.