Improving opportunities for BAME managers and coaches leads discussion at Raise Your Game Debate
The Raise Your Game series, supported by the Premier League, started 2018 with a debate event on encouraging further representation of BAME managers and coaches across the game at Twitter UK on Monday 19 February.
A number of influential figureheads from the professional and grassroots game joined the organisation for an important debate on the current issues that affect individuals from achieving their goals in the football industry.
The evening began with an opening speech from Clive Tyldesley, ITV football commentator, as he delivered a rousing declaration of his support for the work of Kick It Out. He also urged the football industry to find the specific reasons why the representation of BAME players was not being reflected in management or coaching positions.
Following Clive’s speech, the first panel discussion of the evening took place featuring Bill Bush, Executive Director of the Premier League, Roisin Wood, CEO of Kick It Out, Simone Lewis, Head of Learning Development at the Premier League, Jason Lee, Equalities Education Executive of the Professional Footballers’ Association and John Nagle, Head of Policy at the English Football League.
Bill started proceedings by discussing the demonstrable need to make the coach career pathway more representative of the core football community, and where the Rooney Rule features amongst the range of changes needed to clear the obstacles to progression.
Roisin then suggested that football needed to develop from a ‘closed industry’ to one which openly embraced the messages of equality, inclusion and cohesion. Simone, Jason and John also added their thoughts about what their respective organisations felt about the current plight for underrepresented managers and coaches.
During the debate, the audience, featuring representatives from a number of football clubs and organisations, including Chris Hughton and Chris Ramsey, offered their thoughts on what the panel discussed as well as providing opinions on how equality within football can be achieved.
The second panel discussion looked at current coaches and managers within the sport and featured Paul Nevin, First-Team Coach at Brighton and Hove Albion, Kevin Betsy, England Under-15s Head Coach and Amirah Rahman, 2015 FA BAME Coach of the Year.
Paul started the second session by explaining his route to Brighton, detailing his experiences across the world in coaching before joining the club on their adventure to the Premier League. Kevin gave his insight into the transition from playing to coaching and how he prepared himself for his current role.
Amirah then shared her experiences of coaching a local grassroots team in Surrey and the struggles with attracting players and coaches from a wide range of backgrounds.
The panel then engaged with the audience through a series of fascinating and insightful exchanges before audience members were given the platform once again to deliver their verdicts on the need for action in the future.
Reflecting on the event, Troy Townsend, Education Manager at Kick It Out, was delighted with the positive environment of the debate.
“We would like to thank the Premier League and Twitter UK for helping us to host our first ever Raise Your Game Debate.
“The evening for me was unprecedented, as it brought together so many different elements of the game all under one roof. To effectively show the work the game is doing but also the fact that more can still be done.
“The power of seeing a female grassroots coach, sharing stories with an England Head Youth Coach and a Premier League First-Team coach was amazing. Whilst some of the games governing bodies shared great detail and opportunities that are available.
“I would like to also thank everyone who came that made our first ever Raise Your Game Debate a special evening.”
Bill felt the event was an important step in progressing the thoughts surrounding the progression of BAME managers and coaches.
“The Premier League recognises the value of Kick It Out’s Raise Your Game programme opening up football’s networks to ambitious talented people from across football’s diverse communities.
“The debate on Monday night was an invaluable exchange of honest, frank and overwhelmingly constructive discussions on how football at all levels can move forward to achieve greater diversity and inclusion for BAME managers and coaches. Events like this are crucial to opening up the game and making it easier to understand.”