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Carina White making sport her business

AMBITIONS: Carina White

CARINA WHITE is Head of Business Affairs and Partnerships at Tongue Tied Media, having started her career working at a sports agency. Now with over ten years in the game she has seen the landscape change dramatically.

Carina talked to the Voice of Sport about her journey so far as a black woman working in sport and the industry changes she has seen through the years.

Her journey into the industry was less than conventional. A chance meeting one New Year’s Eve led her to meet football agent Leon Callender shortly after he qualified.

Having impressed him with her resilience, Leon asked Carina to head up his office and she accepted, she had got her break. She worked with the agency for the next five years. “I was learning on the job but I just used common sense and it paid off. After that I went to work for a media agency, but now I’ve found my way back into sports again, I can’t get away from it!”

As well as her role at Tongue Tied Media, Carina is a board member at BCOMS, (The Black Collective of Media in Sport).

Carina says the role is very important to her. “One of my passions is improving diversity, so it just made sense for me to join the board at BCOMS.”

“They work very hard and very tirelessly with minimal money to improve diversity across the sports media, so when they asked me to join I jumped at the chance.

“At first, I did think ‘Who?’ ‘Me?’ Everyone else on the board is a mix of journalists and broadcasters. But I do the best I can and as a school governor as well, I think its really important to be giving back and improving the landscape for future generations that are coming in.”

With ten years’ experience in the game, Carina is faced early struggles as a woman in the early days.

“When I first started in sports there were hardly any women working in business administration side of sports, or football, practically none. The landscape has changed considerably and I would definitely credit that to Women in Football, championing females in sports.”

“In terms of being a woman it is much easier now, existing and working in football. I think as a BAME woman you still find that it could be better.”

“I went to an awards event a few months ago, and out of 500 people I was the only black woman there and it raises the question of intersectionality and whether along with improving gender roles within sports, whether BAME women are being championed also.”

On her influences and inspirations, Carina praises her sister ITV News presenter Charlene White and retired athlete and now broadcaster Jeanette Kwakye, who recommended her to BCOMS.

“It is really important to have role models and to have visibility for the next generation, people who look like them and sound like them in positions of influence and positions of power.

“For me, my sister and Jeanette were that influence. My sister was the first black woman to present News at 10 and Jeanette has had a very successful athletics career and she’s turned that around into a successful broadcasting career. If Charlene and Jeanette can do it in those traditionally white male landscapes, then I can do it too.”

“Lungi Macebo is the current COO of Birmingham City FC, she’s a black woman from south London too, so I look at that and think brilliant, we’re smashing down walls and we are getting through.”

This summer there is a spotlight on women’s sport with the BBC launching their #ChangeTheGame campaign, Carina welcomes this. “I absolutely love the concept, I love how in the launch video they included Ms Banks, it was brilliant!”

“As a female who grew up in south London, that’s a massive thing, as it shows that cross over, and it shows that there is now somebody at the BBC taking notice.”

“In terms of the coverage itself, they’re showcasing women, their support of women, and within that you have a lot of BAME women too, from the presenters to the athletes.”

“I’m all for championing diversity across all levels in major spaces and I think the BBC have done that brilliantly. This Women’s World Cup has been the first year that you could not escape the coverage, and some people genuinely believe that this is the first one, and I’m like no - its been going since 1991!”

Carina says there is still work to do, but is happy with the progress women’s sport has made in the last few years.

When asked what success would look like for her in the future, she admitted: “For me, its in forty years, when I’m retired, someone saying I went into this industry because Carina did it, and she succeeded, and she made it possible for others to come through.”

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