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24th Jun, 2024

Kick It out appoints Samuel Okafor as new CEO

Kick It Out is excited to announce that former footballer and NatWest executive director Samuel Okafor will be the organisation’s new chief executive.

Okafor will join the anti-discrimination group from the banking industry, where he has held key leadership roles, most recently as an Executive Director at Coutts. 

He was also a driving force in advancing the diversity, equity, and inclusion agenda at NatWest Group, where he served for over two decades, notably co-leading the Group’s Racial Equality Taskforce. 

Okafor grew up in south London playing for the same grassroots team as former Manchester City players Shaun Wright-Phillips and Dickson Etuhu, before joining Colchester United as an apprentice and player.

Samuel at Colchester United

He then went on to play for various non-league clubs, including Dover Athletic, Enfield Town, Sittingbourne, Hampton and Richmond, and Bromley. During this period he also joined NatWest as a customer service advisor, and worked his way up to branch manager and area manager before becoming an executive director at the bank. 

In addition to his extensive leadership experience in financial services, he also holds several board positions across the charitable sector. 

He will start as Kick It Out CEO in mid-July, replacing Tony Burnett, who announced earlier this year he was retiring at the end of the 2023-24 season.

Okafor, who still watches and plays football, said: “As a former footballer, Kick It Out’s commitment to eradicating discrimination and making football a sport where everyone feels they belong connects deeply with my passion for diversity, equity, and inclusion. 

“The opportunity to contribute to creating a more equitable and welcoming environment across football is incredibly motivating. I look forward to starting the role and working with the team to drive the organisation forward.” 

Sanjay Bhandari, Kick It Out Chair, said: “We’re delighted to welcome Samuel as our new CEO. His background as a footballer and his subsequent business career in banking will bring a rich depth and breadth of leadership experience to Kick It Out. 

“We are excited to have him lead the next stage of our journey. 

“The board would like to thank outgoing CEO Tony Burnett for his outstanding leadership. The fact that we had a vast array of outstanding and diverse candidates apply for this position is a testament to the power of Tony’s honest, humble, and visible leadership.”