What Black History Month means to me?

Bedfordshire FA IAG member gives his thoughts on the importance and relevance of Black History Month.

In this extract, Cliff Simmonds explains the relevance of Black History Month for him.

‘I have been involved in previous Black History Month events for Beds FA but this year has had me thinking a lot more on the significance of the anniversary. 

The passing of my Uncle last month. He like many West Indian men he came to England in the 1950/60’s and faced an uphill battle in making this country a place where they and their children could prosper. My father and 3 other brothers all came to England with the dream, to build a better life for themselves and more importantly for their future families.

The reason as to why my Uncle’s passing has made me think in more depth about Black History Month, he was the last of the brothers. The last of the men that paved a way for me and my kin to have a better life than they did. In simple terms they were our mentors. They laid the first foundations in the path that we would follow in believing we could do things that were traditionally not seen as things that could be done by a person of colour. This is when I strived to be a successful footballer, don’t get me wrong I was never going to reach the very top but these men gave me support and encouragement to try and not be afraid to fail. 

Long story short, I did OK but was never focused enough. Many years later, now a father and like many dads who were close but no cigar, was going to games watching my son play and thinking I could be a coach but as a result of not seeing any men of colour coaching, I  never pursued it at the time. Then one Sunday morning , my sons team had a fixture and I did not watch a single minute of that game. Instead I watched the coach. He was a coach of colour, the first I had seen and I was in awe. All this time I had thought coaching is not for people of colour and yet here was this coach, who looked like me, talked like me doing exactly what I wanted to do. 

I drove home that day and made enquiries about gaining my coaching badges. In a nutshell I guess what I am trying to say that Black History Month to me is a reminder that as people of colour we all have the ability and opportunity to inspire those around us in whatever field we enter. I personally hope to inspire and support the next generation of coaches as Steve Worrell did & continues to do for me. 

Thank you, Steve.’

Cliff Simmonds
Beds FA IAG Member