Football First’s celebrates icons and shares challenges with discrimination in the game
Football stars of the past came together to celebrate their achievements in the game, and the continued fight for equality in the sport.
The Paul Canoville Foundation hosted the inaugural Football First’s event on Friday 13 October, supported by Kick It Out, celebrating legends past and present including: Hope Powell, Paul Elliot, Chris Ramsey, Ricky Hill, Pat Nevin, Howard Gayle and Andy Impey.
Canoville himself could not attend the event as Chelsea’s first black player was in hospital recovering from major surgery.
“It’s lovely to have such an assortment of quality players who have all made a huge substantial positive difference to the game,” said Paul about the occasion.
Taking place in Hammersmith Town Hall, the event focused on the panel discussion of the legends, discussing how they got into football, reliving highlights of their career, as well as tackling discrimination in their journey in football.
The evening proved to be engaging for the audience in attendance with the level of support from the community, a collective consensus of the need for change, and a collective drive to try and achieve it being the core messages to come from the event.
With an audience of over 250 people, Pat of Celtic and Chelsea fame recalled having to defend Canoville from their own fans:
“I couldn’t not intervene. Those were different days, the acceptance in football was ignore it, maybe the club might do something about it, The FA may do something about it. But it [intervening] was about being brought up thinking about equality.”
Ricky is a lobbyist for a ‘Rooney Rule’ within football that would see that at least one person of colour interviewed for a head coaching position if they meet the requirements for the job, a rule which is currently implemented in the National Football League in America.
He commented on policy changes within English football that could help tackle racial discrimination at the board room level.
“I’m really disappointed that at this moment, in 2017, we only have the voluntary recruitment code, which only 10 teams have signed up to. And from the mere fact from the word ‘voluntary’ kind of dilutes the whole issue.”