Last month we announced that we'd be hosting a festival of football for 11-16 year olds from Black & Asian heritage on 30th May at Harrod Sport Arena. The festival is free to attend, and will also see special guest Nimesh Patel offer mentoring support to Coaches that are welcome to join the event.
We caught up with Norfolk FA's Football Development Manager and Inclusion Lead, Rachel Cossey in a short Q&A to find out more about the festival of football coming up at the end of the month.
Tell us more about this month’s Black & Asian Festival
The Black and Asian Festival is designed to be a fun, football festival for 11-16 year olds where players of all abilities can come and enjoy football for the day. We are hoping to encourage players that may have never played the game before or already love playing and would love to attend the day.
The festival will see special guest Nimesh Patel, who is The FA’s Coach Development Officer for Diversity and Inclusion (East) attend the day. We are also encouraging Black and Asian Coaches to attend the day who will be able to speak with Nimesh and receive support and advice on their coaching journey.
How did the idea come about?
The idea for the festival came from our Inclusion Strategy Advisory Group. When creating our work programme for the season, we consult with the ISAG for their checks and challenges to ensure what we are planning offers an inclusive and diverse range of programmes that supports increased participation in all areas of the game, especially from under-represented groups. This has proved significantly positive with initiatives that have focussed on gender and ability groups.
As part of the consultation, the group were asked to highlight projects which they believed would increase the diversity of our football community. The group presented an idea around hosting a Black and Asian football festival to try to encourage more Black and Asian players into the game, as well as providing a platform to offer support and advice to Black and Asian coaches.
What’s the ISAG?
The ISAG is a group independent of Norfolk FA that supports, checks and challenges the work that we do. The group is designed to give an independent view on the work that we do, ensuring our work programmes and the way that we work is as inclusive as possible. Members of the ISAG come from diverse backgrounds and communities, so are well placed to provide insight, help and support in areas that we may need additional advice in from an inclusion perspective. Our ISAG covers all aspects of equality and diversity with members of the group drawn from diverse communities in the county, using their specialising in different areas of inclusion, such as disability or gender to help us improve access to football.
What outcomes will Norfolk FA be hoping to achieve from this event?
We have rainbow of communities in the UK and that is translated into our local county communities. Sadly, we know that there are many communities still under-represented within our local game. Ideally, there would be no need to host a Black and Asian festival because Black and Asian players and coaches would not experience the barriers to participation, however, the inequalities of racial diversity for these communities drives a need to provide the opportunity to support or offer additional platforms that encourage them to become part of the football family and be retained in the game.
To reduce the inequalities and increase participation from under-represented groups more work has to be done to encourage and support participation. We hope that this festival will provide a platform to introduce football to Black and Asian players and inspire players and coaches to enjoy and progress in the game.
How can events like this support the Association’s wider aspirations with regards to inclusion?
We want Norfolk Football to be accessed and enjoyed by everyone. To achieve this we must run projects such as the Black and Asian festival to encourage participation from communities that are currently not being proportionately represented in the many other footballing opportunities that are currently available.
We know that projects such as wildcats which are targeted at girls aged 5-11 years old has allowed thousands of girls across the country to start playing football who would not have done so in the previously offered provisions. Providing an opportunity that is specific to one area of our Norfolk Football community will hopefully enable participation and across the under representation that currently exists, ultimately providing equal opportunity to all.
If you'd like to find out more about attending the festival please click here.
Alternatively, if you have any questions, please email Rachel.Cossey@NorfolkFA.com.