England Football Learning hits home with EDI training day

Event supports coaches create a more inclusive environment for diverse communities

Arsenal, Brentford and Chelsea football clubs, and Crystal Palace Club Community Organisations (CCOs) recently joined The FA and Premier League Charitable Fund at Brentford FC for a learning day to drive better inclusion across the game.

The event was put on by England Football Learning (EFL) to help community coaches create a more inclusive environment for their diverse communities of players. It is part of EFL’s ongoing commitment to educating, developing and diversifying coaching and football administration from communities and grassroots level through to the elite game.

Honest and courageous conversations

The day featured workshops on privilege and how to make the environment for players as inclusive as possible. There were also sessions on supporting coaches with adapting delivery to create a safe, friendly and welcoming environment for women and male allyship within the women’s game.

A practical workshop at Gunnersbury Park Sports Hub concluded the day, allowing the participating coaches to apply their theoretical learnings to the playing field.

The sessions were led by FA Diversity & Inclusion Officers, Coach Developers and Women’s Development staff, Brentford FC ambassador and former professional footballer Marcus Gayle, encouraging courageous, open conversations about race and creating women-friendly environments.

The activities tasked CCOs and other participants to think differently about how to foster environments that embrace diversity and promote inclusivity among all groups. At the same time, collaborative sessions and networking opportunities were provided to help coaches understand each other’s shared experiences and develop practices.

Positive impact

Commenting on the positive impact of England Football Learning’s EDI, Marcus Gayle said: “Events like this are so important as they give people a chance to voice concerns, but also reinforce the positives and celebrate things that have gone well in the community. Education enables people to be empowered with knowledge and gives them a voice based on that knowledge.

“The room was well balanced and diverse, with everyone feeling included, welcomed and valued. The more we can connect and collaborate, the more communities in the local areas will feel the impact. Understanding cultural differences will allow us to see the benefit and the value of what people from different backgrounds can bring to football.”

Psychological safety

The afternoon workshop, led by FA Regional Coach Development Officer Debbie Barry, deep-dived into how to create an environment that allows women to thrive, male allyship and the importance of empowering women and enabling opportunities for participation.

“It’s so important to get a variety of people with different experiences in the same room for an event like this and provide the support, which they can take back into their own context. It’s also important for community coaches to connect and talk about their environments,” said Barry.

“To be able to collaborate and share knowledge through events like this enables coaches to connect and develop, ultimately helping to diversify the game and give access to everyone who wants to participate. There are so many great learning resources available which are easily accessible, and, of course, it’s great to be able to deliver workshops in person.”

England Football Learning’s commitment

Mark Leigh, FA Women and Girls Officer, wrapped up the day with on-field learning that demonstrated practical coaching techniques, involving people from every background and engaging communities to participate in football.

The event forms part of The FA’s latest equality, diversity and inclusion strategy, A Game For All, which outlines its long-term commitment to using its influence across English football to create a game free from discrimination.

Find out more about the England Football Learning courses available here.

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