Wednesdays at the European Go Congress is for relaxation and exercise. Many visitors embraced their day off by playing Beach Volleyball at the lake or by going on excursions, at least as long as the good weather allowed for it. A small group of mostly white-skinned, able-bodied men and women, however, met up in Lecture Room 1 to discuss the role of diversity in Go.
The participants were split up in three groups to tackle the topic 1) in general terms, 2) what ordinary players can do practically within their local Go club and 3) what institutions like the EGF or national federations can do on the institutional level.
Unsurprisingly, all of us agreed that more should be done to increase not only the share of women among Go players; all gender identities, people of colour and ethnic backgrounds should feel welcome. Go events should also match the conditions and requirements that allow physically impaired people to participate as easily and conveniently as possible. The reality we are facing, however, is that a silent majority of people are complacent to these issues or at least do not attribute much importance to them.
But of course there’s no use in moping. Our discussion groups stuck their heads together and identified some striking approaches for the topic of diversity:
- Beginners Only events have the potential of attracting more diverse players.
- Club and tournament venues can be established to be more inviting; many Go tournaments offer a comfortable atmosphere for male players and male players only. Dark and dingy bars away from public places can be off-putting or even unsafe to everyone else.
- Organisers may include special needs for physically impaired people on the registration forms so preparations can be made ahead of time.
- More creative promotional events for Go; we’ve seen great success attracting diverse audiences while promoting the game at anime conventions, book fairs, culture festivals and the like. We should expand these efforts and put more time and money toward promo.
- Almost all national organisations are lacking appointed representatives who can advocate for minority groups.
- Consider changing the name ‘congress’ to something else. The word evokes the image of men in business suits convening behind closed doors to make big decisions, and the like. EGC is so much more than that, though. We are a congress, a championship, a convention, even a big family reunion for some people. Perhaps it’s time for a reinvention?
Most importantly though, organisations need to understand the importance of changes like this and take action. Actual financial contributions will have to be made toward diversity projects. Increasing the diversity and inclusivity of our Go communities will help promote the game overall and help grow this beautiful hobby of ours even further.