Judan Ali coaching in East London
With the lack of coaches from minority backgrounds brought into sharp focus of late, England manager Roy Hodgson addressed black and Asian coaches participating in COACH, an FA-led bursary scheme looking to increase diversity on the touchline, at the brand new St. George’s Park facility in Burton on 30 August.
The aspiring coaches observed sessions planned by former Birmingham City captain Michael Johnson and Aston Villa academy coach Danny Campbell before Hodgson spoke to the attendees about his journey into the game and gave the venture his backing.
“This bursary is a real opportunity to get the right qualifications to progress in football,” said Hodgson. “It's fantastic that the programme gives you the chance to work and learn at a Premier League or Football League club and I'm pleased to see my old clubs Fulham and West Bromwich Albion are on board as well.
“You should make the most of that experience and learn from the expertise of those around you as we never stop learning as coaches, regardless of the level we're working at.
“We know there's a lack of black and minority ethnic coaches in the top flight but we¹ve seen both Chris Hughton and Chris Powell win silverware domestically and Terry Connor is a well respected coach across the game with Wolves. These are guys to draw real inspiration from.
“Hopefully we'll be stood here in a few years talking to young hopefuls about the success stories of this group."
The programme, which has been launched in conjunction with the Premier League, the Football League, the League Managers' Association and the Professional Footballers' Association, is being managed by Brendon Batson, an FA consultant for Equality.
"This is really just the beginning of the journey for these guys,” commented former West Brom and Arsenal defender Batson. “It's a whole-game approach and all the parties involved will support them through their coaching qualifications, from The FA Youth Award to the UEFA 'B' and UEFA 'A' Licences.
"This is a three-year programme and we hope to get a lot more coaches through. What we can guarantee at the end of it is that we will have a number of coaches who will have increased their qualifications, which, in turn, will given them a better opportunity when they apply for coaching jobs in the future."
One beneficiary of the scheme, Judan Ali, a 38-year-old British Asian who turned to youth coaching after a spell as a trainee with Premier League side Arsenal, helped deliver a session to England under-17s on the day. He called on parents of talented young footballers across the UK, especially those of British Asian origin, to support their children more by getting involved in football academies, and local sports and community centres.
“It is frustrating to see the talent here in the UK not breaking through. On most occasions, it’s because the footballers are not being encouraged by their parents to make a career out of the sport, as rightly they need to put education first, and a stable and secure career. There is racism in society, and the more parents hold back the less chance there is of decent numbers making it.
“I am privileged and lucky to have been given the confidence personally by Roy Hodgson to pursue my ambitions. The game’s governing bodies are looking to find and support coaches eager to find a path into the professional ranks, and want to open up an avenue elsewhere in football for those who feel they have had the door shut on them to make a career out of the playing side.”
Having successfully applied for funding towards his UEFA ‘A’ Licence course, Rehan Mirza, a British Pakistani coach who works for Notts County’s Centre of Excellence and Nottinghamshire Schools’ Football Association (NSFA), was also in attendance.
“Brendon Batson, who has been instrumental to bring forward coaches from the black and Asian community, has managed to successfully put in place a suitable programme which is the first of its kind. David Sheepshanks was present to explain the process it has taken to create an opportunity like this.
“Myself and two others on the day seemed to be the fortunate ones to receive funding for a UEFA ‘A’ licence course. In total, some 49 coaches have been accepted for funding for various coaching courses. Apart from seeing such fantastic facitilies at St George’s Park, the highlight of the day was meeting Roy Hodgson. It certainly puts into perspective what can be achieved if the opportunities are there to be taken.”
To view a video from the launch at St. George's Park, please click here.