Gloucestershire recently played host to a Football Black List celebration event at Ashton Gate – a fantastic evening spent celebrating the Black heroes in the South West.
The Football Black List (FBL) regional celebrations – held across the Country – have been supported exclusively by the Football Association. Each event has seen the FBL team come together with the County FAs in the area, as well as Black community and grassroots leaders, to create something very special.
The aim is to shine a spotlight on inspirational figures and highlight the various pathways into working in the game. Gloucestershire FA is extremely proud of director Errol Thompson who was recognised for his contributions to football. Errol very kindly gave up the time to answer a few questions for the GFA.
Can you tell us about your experience in Football and the award you have won?
My experience in football spans over 40 years. From grassroots, as a player, goalkeeper, administrator organising games and players. Generally doing the things most players take for granted, ensuring that football continues to be available for anyone who wants to play in a non discriminatory environment. I have been a member of the Inclusion Advisory Group (IAG), the GFA Disciplinary panel, a League Management Committee Member and recently became a member of the Board of Directors at the GFA.
I was recognised for my services to football at the Football Black List Awards.
How has football impacted your life?
Football has played a major part in my life. It has given me the opportunity to meet a lot of people from a wide variety of backgrounds. The most important thing for me is the social aspect. At the Lebeq Football Club where I spent most of my time with Owen Smith, the idea and purpose of the Club was to build something that is inclusive, welcoming and competitive. Where we were able to see players develop and grow together with the club and their communities.
October is Black History Month. How important is it that we celebrate this campaign?
It is important that we celebrate Black History Month to remember the contributions of those who have made the difference in football and society but have not been recognised for their achievements.
“The idea was to build something that is inclusive, welcoming and competitive. Where we were able to see players develop and grow together with the club and their communities.” – Errol Thompson
What more can we do to support historically underrepresented communities?
There are many underrepresented communities in Bristol and the wider community, and for some football is the only thing that brings them together. I believe the most effective way to support these communities is to create opportunities through partnerships and collaboration involving community groups and provide more events where their communities are located.
Are there any inspirational people that you look up to?
There are many inspirational figures that I admire - too many to mention, but I believe Pele was ahead of his time and stands out above the rest. It is Black History Month and I think about forgotten pioneers of the game like Walter Tull (Tottenham Hotspur) and Scottish football player Andrew Watson.
We would like to thank Errol for his time and his contributions to football in Gloucestershire.
Click to read more from our other FBL honourees: Patrick Williams and OJ Olagunju.