Why racism in football should be on the school curriculum

You don’t have to be a sports enthusiast to have heard or be interested in the recent debates about racism in football or the lack of black coaches and managers causing concern.

Of course being married to a football coach who has worked with children for many years I have heard it loud and clear! Any parent or member of staff working in schools in the UK now knows that by far the most popular sport with the boys and with increasing numbers of girls is football.

It is the most influential sport in the lives of so many children in the UK. There is a debate fuelling a push for more equal opportunities for black coaches and managers in football particularly at higher levels. There have been accusations of racism in both FIFA and the FA and the discourse on the subject matter has been going on for many years.

There is call for the Rooney Rule to be implemented in British football. The rule originated in the US and is named after Pittsburgh Steelers owner Dan Rooney, who incidentally is white but was the driving force behind getting more black coaches into their game.

The result was that it is a legal requirement for all clubs to interview at least one black or ethnic minority candidate for their manager’s job when it becomes available. With over 20 per cent of professional footballers in England being black and just two managers there is certainly something wrong.

There is an under- representation of black men in managerial positions at all levels and therefore a lack of role models for black boys many of whom are desperately in need of them. My husband, Andrew Paul Palmer,  has worked for many years in children’s football but has struggled to gain recognition and access to jobs at higher levels.

Andrew Paul Palmer

He has been and continues to be an excellent role model for kids but has not been accorded the recognition he deserves. As parents to a young son we are not about to shy away from these sort of issues since he will one day be growing up asking questions and banging on doors seeking answers.

Show Racism the Red Card has resources for teachers and will provide workshops to schools unsure of or uncomfortable with approaching this themselves.

This is an interesting topic for teachers to use in the classroom because it encourages debate about race, equality and of course about football, a subject guaranteed to engage many a disaffected student.

Teachers may often shy away from issues relating to race in the classroom in fear of the backlash. This is both sad and unwise. A lid cannot be kept on a boiling pot! If schools encourage conversation about such issues amongst children in schools and get themselves involved in such debates it can only help the cause.

It can help to ensure that the scores of black boys who are growing up in Britain will be given better opportunities in the future. There is a lot of talk about how disaffected they are and how they can be engaged or how they can be encouraged to achieve.

Well without role models and without equality how can they? Maybe women don’t know about football but we know about what goes on in schools and in the lives of kids. There is a need for this debate to continue and gain the impetus needed for action that leads to change for the better on this one.

Related Links

Football Unites Racism Divides

Open up to black coaches and managers, FA urged (Afro News)