Afrasiab Anwar column: Burnley FC leading the way on and off the pitch

As a football supporter and as someone who has spent the past 20 years in grassroots football, I am a firm believer that sport and football can be a powerful tool to unite our communities.
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The Clarets are currently flying high in the league, and this has a huge impact on the rest of the borough. There is a real buzz across the whole town and when our football team does well, the whole town does well.

Having a team that is exceeding all expectations on the pitch lifts spirits and no doubt attracts positive attention for Burnley. This is fantastic; however, a lot of credit also goes to the leadership at the club who are doing some fantastic work to change the direction and image of the club. There is a lot of talk about ownership of football clubs but having seen our custodians at close quarters, I believe the club is in safe hands.

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It is important for a club like Burnley with our diverse communities to engage with all. Burnley FC in the Community, the club's charity arm leads the way in this regard and does some wonderful work engaging communities through various programmes.

Therefore, this week it was an absolute pleasure to be a part of the first ever community iftar at Turf Moor organised by Burnley FC in the Community staff. The Iftar is one of the religious observances of Ramadan, and is often done as a community, with Muslims gathering to break their fast together. The meal is taken just after the call to the Maghrib prayer, which is around sunset. Muslims believe that communal iftar can be a form of charity and brings the community together.

It was an honour to be a part of the iftar where all sections of the community came together to learn about Ramadan and share in the blessings of this holy month. It's great to see the positive impact that Burnley FC is having on the community, not just through their success on the pitch but also through their efforts to engage with and support all members of the community.

The club engaged with community partners including Building Bridges in Burnley, Islamic Relief, Community Outreach, Daneshouse Football Club and the Lancashire Council of Mosques. Engaging with community partners and involving young people from the club's youth teams and academy coaches in events like the community iftar is a great way to build bridges and foster understanding between different groups of people.

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The icing on the cake would have been to have a player visit on the night, however attendees were delighted to hear a recorded Ramadan Mubarak message from fans’ favourite Anass Zaroury.

These are exciting times for Burnley on and off the pitch and I am already looking forward to next year's event, which the club have committed to make bigger and better. All in all, it's clear that Burnley FC is not just a football club, but a positive force for good in the community.