Our Head of Marketing & Communications, Rebecca Burton sat down with the following people to discuss inclusion within Norfolk football, the barriers faced and what more can be done, as part of Nimesh Patel's recent visit to the county.
Ken D’Rosario, Norfolk County FA Designated Safeguarding Officer & Chairperson of Norfolk FA’s Inclusion Strategy Advisory Group
Rachel Cossey, Norfolk County FA’s Football Development Manager
Gabriel Evbota, Chairperson of the Norwich & District Sunday League & member of Norfolk FA’s Inclusion Strategy Advisory Group
Nimesh Patel, The FA’s Regional Coach Development Officer | Diversity & Inclusion (East Region)
Rachel Cossey started by explaining the role of Norfolk FA’s inclusion Strategy Advisory Group (ISAG): “The idea of the ISAG, which has been running for just over two years, is to really set aside and be separate to the County FA in such that they are able to check and challenge the inclusive work that we complete as a County FA.
“Also, there is a supporting role as well, we have 12 members all from different areas of inclusion with different areas of expertise. It’s about checking and challenging the work we do as Norfolk County FA to make sure we are providing the best inclusive offer of football to all aspects of our community."
When asked how to go about making Norfolk football more diverse, Ken D’Rosario said: “You cannot sit back and expect people to come to you, we need to reach out to those people and get into those communities.
“We need to, as a County Football Association, reach out to those communities and tell them how important they are to our proliferation of the game. To continue the game going forward we need to share the message that people like myself have been coaches and are involved with the County FA, people like Gabby (Evbota) are involved with local leagues and have responsible roles within the County and our areas of football. Therefore, the younger generation can aspire to be like us.”
Gabriel Evbota’s response to the question; How do we get people to see that all are welcomed within Norfolk football?
“We have started identifying, as part of the work we do as an ISAG the people in these communities and groups. But we need to find out why they are not coming forward, why they stop playing football, why are they not playing for teams.
“You need to go and find out about what’s actually stopping them engaging with us and local leagues to play football. When we know the problem, that’s when we can solve it. At the moment we are actually trying to solve it without knowing the real reasons why.”
When asked what impact and how important it is to get more coaches from Black and Asian backgrounds involved to be inspirational within the game, Nimesh Patel replied: “It’s really important, it’s the piece that puts the jigsaw together. We want to have the representation from a playing aspect but also at a coaching level, a management level, a County FA level and at a board level. It’s got to be all parts for it to work together and my role specifically is to try and help address the under-representation currently within the game of coaching, specifically for Black and Asian coaches to get involved. Recruiting them and deploying them into local grassroots communities.
“If you wanted to come to a local club, if you make that first step, if there is representation within the coaching or management team you feel a little bit safer with that trust-net, and it being more apparent than if it was just an all-white environment.
“It’s about then once identifying these coaches to give them the inspirational and transformational opportunities that they can have a say in the game and also progress as coaches, through qualifications but also obtaining larger roles including involvement in a professional environment.”
MORE ABOUT NORFOLK FA'S INCLUSION STRATEGY ADVISORY GROUP
MORE ABOUT NIMESH PATEL'S VISIT