Bravery is an essential quality for any footballer. As a defender, putting your body on the line and your head where it hurts is the minimum expectation.
There’s no doubting Mathias ‘Zanka’ Jørgensen’s mentality - it’s been plain to see since his debut at Molineux in September. However, to add to the clichés above, it’s not just on the pitch that’s he’s willing to stand up and be counted.
Perhaps fuelled by a career that has taken him across Europe, and by the recent birth of his son Axel, Zanka has a huge appetite for life and learning. “When it comes to these things, I just can’t shut up,” he tells us after a training session at Jersey Road when asked about the Rainbow Laces campaign. “If there’s a topic up for debate, I’ll speak my mind.”
During our chat, the 31-year-old underlined the importance of the initiative in creating discussion about, and ultimately acceptance of, the LGBTQ+ community. Football is for everyone.
Zanka on his nickname…
Johan Lange, my Youth Team coach when I was around ten, had seen the movie Cool Runnings. He’s the Sporting Director at Aston Villa now – there’s a fact for you! We were travelling back from training and had to fit a lot of people in the car – I was sitting in front of the passenger seat and it looked like I was on a bobsleigh! He decided from that point onwards I’d be called Zanka, and it just stuck! It’s only my mum, sister and fiancé that call me Mathias now!
Awareness is so important. It’s up to each of us, every day, to highlight homophobia. If somebody makes the mistake of using a word that’s homophobic, ask them to use another word. I might not be offended, but somebody else might be. It’s going to take time for people to get rid of bad habits; language is instilled over years, centuries even. Everyone has probably used offensive language at one point or another without actually meaning any harm.
And the importance of the Rainbow Laces campaign…
Some laces, a captain’s armband and a nice cover of a matchday programme might look like a small thing, but it makes a massive difference in creating awareness. Each time that people are made more aware of the LGBTQ community, it becomes more normalised. When it becomes more normalised, people carry these lessons with them and discuss at home, in workplaces and in classrooms.
Also included in Sunday’s issue:
- Thomas Frank’s thoughts
- The lowdown on Everton
- Peter Gilham’s Great Brentford Goals
- View from the North Stand
- From the Archive
- History Boys with Ashley Bayes
- Coach Karleigh
- The Last Word with Ben Burgess
Priced at £4, our sellers around the stadium are now accepting contactless payments. Programmes are also available from The Bees Merchandise Kiosk on Lionel Road South and from the brand-new Bees Superstore.
Missed a game at Brentford Community Stadium this season? Fill the gaps in your programme collection here.