Jermaine Defoe wants to inspire more black football coaches and managers after a report found that black employees hold just 4.4% of management-related positions in English football.
According to Black Footballers Partnership (BFP) – an organisation of current and former players – there has been “no real change” to the number of black footballers hired in managerial positions in professional football at the end of their careers.
Defore – who played for West Ham, Tottenham, Portsmouth, Sunderland and Bournemouth in England, and represented the Three Lions 57 times scoring 20 goals – is documenting his journey into management, and hopes to boost the number of black coaches moving into the industry.
“When I’ve spoken to players like Les Ferdinand, Ian Wright, John Barnes, Sol Campbell, Dwight Yorke over the years about finishing playing and going into coaching and management and not getting the opportunity, it seems like you get little improvement but not much.
“If this can happen for me, then the players for the next generation might consider going into coaching, but the numbers are shocking to be totally honest.”
Defoe retired from professional football last year in March 2022 and has since begun coaching Tottenham Hotspur’s under-18 side.
BFP previously found that although only 4.4% of managers were black, almost half (43%) of Premier League players were black.
“You know sometimes people get disheartened and they don’t want to waste their time,” said Defoe.
“I’ve spoken to the players about coaching badges and I’ve had players say to me: ‘What’s the point? I don’t want to waste my time getting my coaching badges and then not get an opportunity to coach. So it’s pointless. I’d rather go into media and hopefully get something there.’
“There have been many players over the years that have had their badges – big names, Premier League legends [that have] played in major tournaments that have not been given opportunities.
“I’m willing to start from the bottom, like I have in the academy, but once I’ve done my hard work and completed my badges then we’ll see if the opportunity comes.”
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Following BFP’s release of the report this week, the Football Association said it was “deeply committed to ensuring that English football is truly reflective of our modern and diverse society.”
Former Arsenal midfielder and Crystal Palace manager Patrick Vieira is currently the only black manager in the Premier League, and Defoe said it is “difficult to see” his goal of managing in England’s top-flight becoming a reality.
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