By Khadra Osman
Last month the Football Black List 2022 was announced.
Founded in 2008, the Football Black List was created to celebrate black excellence in sports and to inspire other black people to enter the sports industry to address the underrepresentation of black sports figures, from grassroots coaches to sports media individuals.
It is split into eight groups: commercial, coaching and management, administration, community, LGBTQ+, players, and media practitioners. In addition to this, there is the Ugo Ehiogu Ones to Watch list, which recognises young talent in the sports industry.
Current Chelsea and former Manchester City player Raheem Sterling was named as an influential black player alongside Rashford, who has also been instrumental outside of football with his work in tackling child poverty with his successful free school meals campaign.
Former Manchester City defender Vincent Kompany was selected for his coaching role at Burnley. As one of only three black managers in the Championship, he has transformed the club’s fortunes as they currently sit 12 points clear of second in the Championship table.
Carl Anka, who covers Manchester United for The Athletic, is amongst the journalists nominated. He has co-written two books with Marcus Rashford, “You Can Do It” and “You Are a Champion”.
Co-founder, Leon Mann MBE, expressed how glad he was to share another Football Black List, describing it as both “incredible and inspirational.”
The final list is determined using a voting system and is decided by a set of judges who submit separate lists. This year the judging panel included Manisha Tailor. Tailor, the Assistant Head of Coaching for the U9-U16 squads at QPR, is the only coach of South Asian heritage in the entire professional game.
There are several reasons why the Football Black List is needed and should be celebrated. First, it highlights the lack of diversity in the football industry across different areas, such as media, where many minorities continue to face difficulties and hurdles.
This list allows Black sports figures to become more visible and recognises their influence and contribution to sports.
Last year, the Football Black List was brought to Manchester’s National Football Museum to recognise and celebrate local heroes. This event was supported by the Manchester FA and I was lucky enough to attend the event that Sky Sports presenter Kyle Walker hosted. The evening began with inspirational discussions with panellists, including the Founder and CEO of the Goals4Girls organisation Francesca Brown, and Andrew Laylor, a previous School Partnership Officer for the Manchester United Foundation.
Following the panel discussion, a series of awards were presented. The award winners included Diane Modahl MBE, an Olympian and Commonwealth Games Gold medallist and the CEO and Co-founder of the Diane Modahl Foundation, a charity that inspires and champions young people from deprived communities across the North West to progress in areas like sport. In May 2021, she chaired the Commonwealth Games England Sports Committee.
Another winner of the night was Tony Whelan, a former professional football player and assistant academy director of Manchester United. Whelan is particularly known for his strong influence on Marcus Rashford’s life during his work at the academy. Reflecting on his contribution to Rashford’s development, he discusses how Manchester United introduced a full-time programme that involved coaching the young players who stayed in the accommodation.
Other winners of the night included Joe Thompson, who is a former football player, Mike Edwards, and Ruth Ibegbuna.
This experience inspires me to persevere and overcome barriers that many have experienced and still do so, and to continue to contribute positively to the sport.
The Football Black List is important as it celebrates influential black sports figures who continue to inspire many young people.
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