A host of football legends – including Les Ferdinand, Paul Canoville and John Barnes - are to be put on the spot at an H&F event organised to reflect on and celebrate the experience of black players in the game.
Hammersmith Town Hall will host the Football Firsts event as part of Black History Month, which will feature football legends from the borough and beyond in a panel discussion about their experiences in the game.
The focus will be on the equality, diversity and mental health challenges faced by pioneering figures in the history of black footballers in the UK; and panellists will share bad experiences, as well as good.
“We are proud to host this event, which will reflect on what has at times been a difficult journey for black people in football, while celebrating the huge success of black players in the game,” said Cllr Sue Fennimore, Deputy Leader of Hammersmith & Fulham Council.
“As a borough that is home to three major football clubs, this will be a great opportunity to recognise and share the positive impact pioneering black players have made in the sport, and the important role football can have in forming integrated communities.”
Football Firsts has a star-studded list of panellists, including event organiser Paul Canoville – Chelsea's first ever black player.
He said: “Although we’ve come a long way, it’s still worthwhile to look back to understand exactly how far we’ve come, as well as look forward and seek out ways to make continued progress.”
Paul will be joined names including:
- Hope Powell: former player for and manager of the England Women's team.
- Pat Nevin: former player for Chelsea FC and now a broadcaster.
- John Barnes: Liverpool and England legend.
- Les Ferdinand: now Director of Football at Queens Park Rangers.
- Paul Elliott: the first black captain of Chelsea.
- Chris Ramsey: Technical Director at Queens Park Rangers
Compere Geoff Schumann, who is also involved in organising the event, said: “I felt it essential to honour some of the modern day pioneers of the beautiful game and encourage them to tell their stories to true fans like myself.
“I wanted to create an evening where the general public could get up close and personal with some of their former heroes and heroines, to hear first-hand stories about their struggles within the context of a live audience.”
The Friday 13 October event is sponsored by Hammersmith & Fulham Council, the Professional Footballers Association and Kick It Out.
Doors open at 6.30pm; and tickets, at the discounted price of £10 for H&F residents, are available from Hammersmith Town Hall, 10am to 5pm, Monday to Friday.
Full price tickets are available for £15 from Eventbrite, or W12 Music, 414 Uxbridge Road.
Proceeds from the event will go to The Paul Canoville Foundation.
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