By Michael McCann
Chris Hughton, one of just four black first-team football managers in England, says the Sports People’s Think Tank (SPTT) is playing a key role in helping the game become more diverse in coaching and management.
Speaking at the recent Best of Africa (BOA) 2015 awards evening, held in association with The SPTT at Africa House, Miscon De Reya, the current Brighton & Hove Albion manager explained that he feels change is coming.
“One thing the SPTT have done, which is something that has probably always been needed, is bring about awareness and I certainly think we are in a climate of change.”
“For us in the game who want to see as many BAME managers and coaches in the game as possible we want the change to come sooner rather than later.
“I feel there’s an enthusiasm for that change and the more profile and publicity it can get can only enhance what we are endeavouring to do.”
Hughton admits that change is not coming at the pace he would like, but is adamant that the widespread public debate instigated by the SPTT has created a climate for future progression.
“I feel there is a thirst for change, I do– do I think things are happening quick enough? No I don’t.
“The more we speak about it, the more pressure that is applied and drive we see from certain organisations the more of that change we will see.”
The 57 year-old who has turned Brighton & Hove Albion from relegation strugglers to Championship promotion contenders this season, also welcomed the Football League implementing a version of the Rooney rule.
The former Newcastle & Norwich City manager acknowledged the debate about how much this will improve the situation, but once again emphasised the importance of having such discussions to help instigate change.
“It is all leading towards one thing, which is that we want to see more BAME men and women in football, not just in what we are seeing now, which is grassroots and academy level, but the top level.
“The way that will happen is by the recognising that there are not the numbers at the top level at this particular moment, and what has to happen for those numbers to reach a better point.
“Most of that comes from education, the media and a real will to want to change things – at the moment I see a real change going on.”
Hughton is now one of only four first-team BAME managers in England, after the sackings of Chris Ramsey at Queens Park Rangers & Chris Powell at Huddersfield Town, and he relishes the opportunity to be a role model for those coming through.
“One thing I’ve always felt very proud of is if there is any way I can be a role model for those who are endeavouring to become coaches and managers.
“If I can help encourage them to stay in the game in any way then it is something am delighted to do.”
Hughton also emphasised that events like the 2015 BOA awards are vital in celebrating African footballer’s achievements, with high-profile African players, managers and coaches all attending.
“It’s a wonderful event and it pays tribute to a lot of the African players in the Premiership and Championship by the honouring the amount of charitable work, often in their home countries, that people don’t see.
“If people do not see it, they often do not recognise it and with any type of foundation or charity it needs recognition and events like this are significant to spread the word.”