Gabriel Evbota holding a football on Harrod Sport Arena

Black History Month: Gabriel Evbota

Marketing & Communications
Gabriel 'Gabby' Evbota BEM, Chair of Norfolk FA's Inclusion Strategy and Advisory Group shares his thoughts on Black History Month.

Gabby Evbota, Chair of the Inclusion Strategy and Advisory Group, BHM Q&A

Gabriel “Gabby” Evbota BEM, Chair of the Inclusion Strategy and Advisory Group shares his thoughts on Black History Month. Gabby has been heavily involved in Norfolk Football for many years and is an influential member of the ISAG. In 2022, Gabby was deservedly awarded the “Spirit of Grassroots Football Award”. Gabby is also the Chair of Cottage Vets that play in League 1 East Division in the One Broker Veterans League.

What comes to your mind when you think of Black History Month?

Black History Month is a time of celebration, recognition, and sombre reflection. Black people from an African and Caribbean communities have been integral to part of the British history since 1948. I think about life in the 70s when I was younger and things black people went through when I lived in SE London, the racism, Stephen Lawrence, Notting Hill carnival. Football related the changes to the terraces – the crowds – how diverse they are now - never would have gone near a live footy match in those days.

The idea for the Black History Month interviews was yours. How did you come up with it?

The theme this year is Celebrating our sisters, so I thought we should focus on black female players, referees, or coaches. So, we went out and asked clubs. Unfortunately, our search highlighted how much work we still need to do as a committee, to improve the inclusion element to have a more diverse playing force within Norfolk.

Gabriel Evbota BEM, presenting a trophy on behalf of the Norwich & District Sunday League.

Why is it important for children to see successful black players, coaches, and referees in the men’s and women’s game?

You can’t be what you can’t see - it’s as simple as that.

It’s natural to look for somebody like you in any profession, they inspire you, motivate you and if close enough provides you with guidance. You feel like you belong, and you are in a safe space. You believe that you can achieve what they have achieved and there are no hidden barriers to stop you.

Did you have a black role model in football growing up, who was it and why? What did this mean for you?

Clyde Best of West Ham – striker. Used to watch him on The Big Match. Just watching him the only black man doing his thing, in front of a predominant white crowd, week in week out with all the abuse that was going around at that time – he was amazing -  talk about thick skin.

As the Chair of the Inclusion Strategy and Advisory Group, what projects would you like to be done within Norfolk?

I would like us to focus on the Norfolk football being more representative of the Norfolk community. Early 90s when I came up from London, very few black people in football and in the community. But we are in 2023, the community is far more diverse and I’m not talking just black people, people from different communities and our football in Norfolk should reflect this.

Looking forward to promoting the Rainbow Laces campaign to provide support and inclusion for LGBTQ+ community in all aspects of football in Norfolk.

More work to be done on the disability side of football, provide support and a better provision in this space. Continue the good work that has already been done to ensure that the female game continues to grow.

More information on the Inclusion Strategy and Advisory Group can be found here.