Last Friday, we hosted our annual Black History Month event at Cheshire FA HQ.
The event was a celebration of the positive contribution that members of the BAME community have made in both football and wider society.
We were delighted to be joined by a number of guest speakers who offered insight and shared experiences of growing up within football. These included former Manchester United defender Quinton Fortune, Kick it Out Northern Grassroots Officer Arran Williams, ex-England U19s coach Noel Blake and Chester FC Coach Adam Ford.
The evening, which was well attended by a variety of people from the footballing community, also gave an opportunity for people to network and share their own personal experiences of the footballing landscape in Cheshire.
Speaking about the event, Quinton Fortune, who now runs his own football Academy, said: “[It’s important] to remember people who have paved the way for us.
“I remember the name of Albert Johanneson, the very first black player to play in the Premier League, and to honour the likes of Cyrille Regis. It’s a way to show respect, continue to carry on where they left off and inspire young people to get into the game.
“[We want to] help them believe that anything is possible, regardless of where they come from or the colour of their skin.”
FA Regional Coach Mentor Officer Steve Smithies said: “Black History Month was originally celebrated in America and is an opportunity to look back and reflect on the excellent achievements by the BAME communities in all aspects of society, and the positive contributions that they’ve made.
“These events are really important and are a big influencer on the football community as a whole. It’s great that we have these events and people from all over the Cheshire community can celebrate not just Black History Month, but football as a whole and its wonderful contribution to our society.”
Arran Williams, Kick it Out’s Northern Grassroots Officer, added: “The importance of Black History Month to myself personally is absolutely brilliant.
“Growing up, I wasn’t really shown many role models from the black and Asian community, and coming from where I’m from in Halifax, it’s very difficult to see role models who looked like myself or I could aspire to be like them.
“What I’ve learnt is that there are many role models all across the world from the black and Asian community.
“Events like this really drive home the importance of making sure football is inclusive for all, that everyone who wants to get involved with football – whether that’s as a player, coach, volunteer or referee – can do so.
“These events drive that home massively into the grassroots community and the exposure it gives to black and Asian minority ethnics is massive.”
BAME Coaches Network