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 celebrations recently came to Ashton Gate to recognise a handful of the many inspirational Black figures working across the South West.
Gloucestershire FA spoke to award winner Derek Scale to learn about a life dedicated to football as well as the Black heroes who inspired him.
Can you tell us about your experience in Football and what awards you have won?
My experience with football started as a player. Whilst playing, I experienced a lot of racism and I was often the only Black player on the pitch. This made me want to continue a career in football as a coach and create a club that represented the diverse community around me.
I have now been coaching for 37 yrs. Not only as the Chairman of Bristol Central, which is a grassroots football club for 5 - 18 year olds, but I also coached for Bristol Rovers for 15 years and now Bristol City.
Awards we have won:
Evening Post Community Club of the Year
GFA Community Club of the Year
Positive Role Model Diversity Award
How has football impacted your life?
Through football, I have learnt valuable life skills and have a great deal of respect for all involved.
Football has opened the world up to me, visiting different countries going on football tours. It's impacted me greatly in the best way. It has given me purpose and a sense of belonging.
Now I get to do the same for the younger generations and be the role model I didn’t have in my day to day life growing up.
October is Black History Month. How important is it that we celebrate this campaign?
I believe it is very important that we celebrate the Black people within football and within history who are doing inspirational things to pave the way for others.
What would be even greater is if it is something that could be celebrated all year round, as the achievements of Black people are endless and deserve the recognition so they can inspire others.
“Whilst playing, I experienced a lot of racism and I was often the only Black player on the pitch. This made me want to continue a career in football as a coach and create a club that represented the diverse community around me.”
– Derek Scale
What more can we do to support historically underrepresented communities?
I feel the best thing we could do to support these communities is providing funding so that we are able to create opportunities within sports and football. Not just playing but other opportunities like developing skills in data analysis, referee, and coaches courses.
Also, we could encourage more female footballers to come and visit grassroots clubs. This is something we want to do at Bristol Central to develop girls' football within the community.
Are there any inspirational people that you look up to?
There are many players that have inspired me as I was growing up. They were the first successful black players that took so much racial abuse but persevered and showed me it was possible. Players like:
GFA would like to thank Derek and all of our interviewees for their time.
Read more in this series: Patrick Williams | OJ Olagunju | Errol Thompson