#RYG17 hosts and mentors praise impact of mentoring event
By Charlie MacKinnon
Kick It Out hosted another hugely successful Raise Your Game national conference at Arsenal’s Emirates Stadium on Monday 24 April.
Over 300 mentees and over 90 mentors attended the event, which allows people aspiring to work their way into the football industry the opportunity to speak to experienced mentors and network, hear from panel discussions regarding the issues surrounding discrimination in the industry, and supporting diversity in football.
The hosts for the event, Max Rushden, presenter for Sky Sports and talkSPORT, and BBC and BT Sport presenter Reshmin Chowdhury, spoke to Kick It Out during the mentoring sessions, and both were full of praise for the event which was taking place for the seventh time since its inception in 2012.
“Raise Your Game is a great idea. You look around and you see all the mentors, you can see there’s some really big-hitters in the industry here, giving up their time to give some great advice to people,” Max commented.
“You scratch the surface of the issues and you do start to think about your place in football. We all know football has the power to change lives and help people. I certainly think football reflects society, but is behind in a lot of ways, certainly in diversity.”
Reshmin hosted the event for the first time this year after previously attending twice as a mentor, and spoke of the fantastic opportunity Raise Your Game offers to mentees.
“Having so many people here working in the industry that can open doors for you and share their ideas; it’s invaluable for young people trying to get into the industry.
“Everyone knows it’s not an easy place to get into, so having any kind of opening like this is fantastic. Improving the diversity of the workforce needs more help, but an event like this certainly helps.”
It was also an important day for the mentors, with some providing invaluable guidance to the mentees in attendance.
Amar Singh, Director of the London Press Club and former Chief Content Officer for Squawka, described the event as ‘one of the highlights of the football calendar’.
“The sporting industry in this country is huge. There is so much money behind it and there is so much interest and passion in terms of people wanting to get an opportunity in football. As we know, the doors are not always open for people from all backgrounds, it’s not a level playing field.
“All the mentors remember a time where we were entering the industry looking for advice, and we didn’t always get the advice we needed.
“To be able to facilitate this sort of event is one of the best things that Kick It Out does, because you get to see the first-hand the benefits of giving people advice based on your experience. Opening that communication is so important, it’s setting up a relationship going forward”.
Mike McGrath, a football reporter for The Sun on Sunday, feels the event is crucial in providing the mentees with that extra bit of guidance from the mentors before they enter the industry.
“Today will be invaluable for the mentees. I wish I had something like this myself when I was making my way through sports journalism. where I could just bounce a few ideas off people and ask what they think about certain things.
“Some people have got so much talent and they just need to be told how to use it in the right direction. You know they’re going to make it, it’s just about when. For us to see people willing to put the hard-work in to get involved in the sport and make their careers out of sport, it’s great to see”.
Anthony Clavane, freelance journalist and long-term supporter of Kick It Out, has attended the event since it started in 2012, and has seen first-hand the benefits for a mentee attending Raise Your Game.
“Some of the people I’ve seen in previous years have gone on to get jobs in the industry, and that’s the important thing,” he said.
“It’s a testament to Kick It Out, which is an excellent organisation, that an event like this should take place. It’s hard to get a job in football as it is, it’s even harder if you are part of an ethnic minority that is discriminated against.”