Horace Francis, Nottingham FA and Inspire to Succeed CIC, hosted a question and answer session with a panel of guests comprising former football professionals, coaches and administrators at the Queens Walk Community Centre in the Meadows. Most of them came from the circles of Nottingham Forest and Notts County. The panellists gave detailed accounts into their lives and footballing careers, highlighting their achievements and pointing at the shortcomings which according to them were mostly a consequence of race and inequality. It was a forum where they prevailed on the younger ones to rise and defeat the fears they come across; through hard work, commitment, dedication and putting up positive attitudes.
Ian Benjamin, a Nottingham born who started his career at Sheffield United in 1979 gave a brief history of his footballing career that took him to West Brom, Notts County and Soham Town Rangers before his retirement from active playing. Ian continued in football and managed different football clubs and at the same time scouts for his former club Notts County. He urged the youth that were in attendance to live up to the challenges which they face daily with tenacity and steadfastness. He charged them to be pragmatic in deeds and thoughts and to be positive role models in their communities.
Norris Stewart who left England and went to the US to be personal trainer and football coach explained how he dreamt of going to the US and how that dream came through. He also narrated how his cover coach skills and qualification earned him a job in different states like Minnesota, Texas, Arkansas and Oklahoma. Upon his return he said, he worked with kids and adults at Notts County which earn him many media highlights in the country’s top sport magazines. His account was mostly encouraging base on his experience and career which he implored young and aspiring football coaches and players to emulate. He also echoed the need to focus in sports and education and stay away from crimes and violence.
Karl White is the founder of F.C Cavaliers of the meadows. He made a thorough rundown into how sport shaped the lives and the benefits of staying in it. He shared memories with his colleagues who were present and used the opportunity to encourage the promotion and upkeep of the sports industry with the BME community.
Sam Griffiths a female coach who works for the F.A for eleven years, reiterated the need to develop better playing and training facilities. She emphasised the need to promote and support the Kicking Out Racism scheme.
John who was part of the organisers and Sam’s colleague, took the opportunity to call on the young people to be responsible and stay away from crime and violence. He also called on people from BME communities to join them in giving hope to youths by engaging them in sports and recreation. Other speakers included Calvin Plummer and representatives of different sporting organisations and charities within Nottingham.
An exhibition of Black footballers was led by Inspire to Succeed where they showcased a viewing session of a collection of photos and biography of players such as Andy Cole, Jermaine Jenas, Calvin Plummer among other prominent Black players.
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