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'It helps when you see black coaches in the game'

MANAGEMENT ROLE: West Brom boss Darren Moore

MARCUS RASHFORD has been in the news a lot lately; some good stories (getting on the scoresheet in back-to-back England matches), and some not so (being sent-off at Burnley, the ongoing struggle for form under the enigmatic Jose Mourinho). Aside from all this his comments about BAME coaches made news of a different kind.

“It helps when you see black coaches in the game,” said the 20-year-old, who is one of numerous BAME professional footballers in England.

“You need that as something to look forward to. It’s something I believe will change, that there are more black coaches, and I hope it does. I’d never turn down the opportunity to be a coach or help a team. I think it will go up a notch.”

As Kick It Out’s chair, Lord Herman Ouseley, has previously said, “Visibility of diversity is now evident on the fields of play and, increasingly also, among supporters.”

For instance, half of the 22 players involved in the latest England squad are from BAME backgrounds. And the proportion of British BAME players in the Premier League at the start of the 2017/18 season was 33 per cent – a figure which has doubled since the league began in 1992. That’s excellent.

But, as Herman also quite rightly puts it, progress towards having more diverse coaches and managers in the game is “snail-like”. Rashford is right, too. Greater visibility of diverse coaches can – and will - inspire BAME players to believe coaching and management is a realistic and achievable pathway for people like them post-retirement.

However, with just six BAME managers throughout English football's 92 league clubs currently, there aren’t nearly enough to inspire real change.

This risks creating a negative cycle where the relative absence of diverse faces in coaching and management positions today does little to inspire the would-be BAME coaches and managers of tomorrow, and so on.

On this basis, Rashford’s prediction we will see more black coaches in the future is unlikely to materialise.

Chris Powell said football "lost a generation of talent" by failing to encourage more black players from his era to become coaches. And we’re at risk of losing another.

Perhaps I’m being too pessimistic. We shouldn’t ignore the brilliant work of those managers currently in employment who continue to inspire the next generation; Chris Hughton and the aforementioned Chris Powell continue to enjoy success in management.

Nuno Espirito Santo of Wolves has, in just 12 months, assembled arguably the greatest ever newly-promoted Premier League team. Just down the M6, Darren Moore – in his first management role – has revitalised West Brom and reconnected the club with its fan base. Meanwhile, Jos Luhukay guided Sheffield Wednesday to their best start to a season after six games since 1990.

But my point is they can’t do it alone.

In response to a lack of diversity, English football’s governing bodies introduced the ‘Rooney Rule’, which states one BAME candidate must be interviewed for each management position within the England national team set-up at all age groups, as well as at the 72 EFL clubs.

VIEWS: Marcus Rashford

The mandatory rule for all England national team sides to have at least one BAME coach on their staff team is also now in place, albeit loosely. Unfortunately, not all clubs have adhered to this ‘rule’. Are they being held accountable? No. They continue to employ as they please without proper recruitment processes, which often favours the status quo.

Without stricter compliance the ‘Rooney Rule’ risks becoming another box-ticking façade that doesn’t change anything - or tokenism to give it another word.
It also needs coordination across the game; no such systems are currently in place in the Premier League. Not for the first time, the sport’s leaders are not pulling together in the same direction.
Good luck with that change, then.

There is no easy solution to this issue. But speaking on our podcast, the Kick It OutCast, Chris Ramsey - who as the first black male manager of an England national team side knows a thing or two about this issue – put forward an interesting suggestion.

Chris said we don’t need tokenism, but opportunity. So, if there were two candidates for a coaching or management role who were neck and neck, one BAME and one not, it should go to the former candidate to redress the balance.

This way, we redress the balance on merit. This idea itself has some merit, but will everyone else in football agree?

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