Ahead of the first seminar for Kick It Out’s new Game Changers we caught up with Roya Mehdizadeh, a former participant who was recently elected as vice chair of The FA Youth Council.

She tells us why she got involved in the Game Changers programme and what she learned along the way.

“I wanted to get more experience and being a minority, I wanted to develop a diverse mind-set to represent diverse voices on the Youth Council,” explains 20-year-old Roya.

“One of the best things was meeting other young people. Their depth of knowledge was also fantastic, it gives you a deeper understanding [of diversity] and an open mind-set.”

The Game Changers programme aims to identify and create the future leaders of football, inspiring them to bring positive change to the game in the areas of equality and inclusion. In turn, it is hoped this will help address the underrepresentation of minority groups across the industry.

Roya added: “Game Changers highlighted how important it is to listen to people. We can’t just speak for them even if we feel we have the same beliefs.  Everyone has their own stories and ideas on how to better football.

“It highlighted to me that if you give 10 young people a task they all smash it out the park with different ideas that an older male would never think of.”

Roya, from Derby, is entering her final year studying sports development at Leeds Beckett University. She sees herself using the skills learned from her time as a Game Changer to pursue a career in football after she graduates.

“I do see myself in football long term. I do a lot of work with Leeds United at the moment, with their Foundation doing social action projects in deprived areas of Leeds.

“I want to get a job in a football club or charity where I can develop people and cultures. From Game Changers I’ve got a much better understanding of people and how we are all human, though we’re all different.”

Good luck on the next chapter from everyone at Kick It Out.