THE FOOTBALL BLACKLIST (FBL) is a key component of the football calendar and you are only days away from getting in the game!

Applications are currently open for the latest edition of the Football Black List, the annual celebration of black excellence in the game, on and off the pitch.

You can nominate any person you deem worthy of a spot through the Football FBL website.

The voice of sport Matthew Chadder spoke with FBL co-founder Leon Mann about the importance of naming and recognizing Black excellence.

MC: How important is it that people get involved by nominating?

LM: To highlight people, we need them nominated, because once the nomination period closes, there will no longer be an opportunity to nominate someone for another calendar year. Now is the time to think about that person who is doing incredible work in the community, in the industry and put their name forward for consideration for being on the Football Black List.

There is nothing to lose in naming someone. Sometimes we’re not very good at saying thank you to people until they’re dead, so I think acknowledging people for the great work they’re doing is really, really helpful in saying thank you and highlighting the community and area to where they’re coming from, and goes a long way in attracting more interest in what they’re doing.

An important part, if not the main part, of the Football Black List is highlighting black excellence for the next generation. If you are naming that person who is a doctor in a non-league football club and has been in that job for a long time, what you are saying to the next generation is that there are roles and jobs for you in football beyond playing and I think that is a very important message.

CO-FOUNDER: Leon Mann of the FBL

The whole context of the Football Black List is that we are massively under-represented in a game, where in the men’s game we represent 43% of the Premier League in terms of players.

We have the capabilities that you would need to have the same impact in other areas of the game, however, that’s not really happening right now. What we need to do is ensure that people have a good understanding of the pathways as we work within the industry to make sure those doors at the end of those pathways open.

The nominations can be the start of another part of the journey that I think people aren’t aware of at this point, because by being highlighted on the Football Black List, your work will potentially be seen by a completely different audience and audience powerful that will take a lot from your work, but we will learn about your work and potentially want to get more involved in your work.

Describe the nomination process?

Anyone can be nominated, you can even nominate yourself. We have deliberately made it a very open process, we know generally people can be quite secretive in terms of nominating others and certainly nominating themselves and we wanted to push that back and encourage people to come forward.

Once you have been nominated you enter a long list which is then presented to a series of judges from the black community and also from the football industry.

Those judges don’t see or even know who the other judges are to make sure people can’t influence each other.

AND THE WINNER IS: Lungi Macebo, COO of Birmingham City, during a celebration of the Football Black List

At the end of that process, we’ll have a spreadsheet showing who has been voted out on how many times by the judges, and the names that come up the most are the names that go to football’s final blacklist.

That list is then presented to all judges for approval and then we have our final blacklist, which we will announce to the world through The voice newspaper.

What qualities are sought in a candidate?

It’s really about impact and impact as appreciated by the community and the industry. It could be that someone is doing incredible work in a particular part of the country that doesn’t necessarily have an overall national impact, but is making a difference to the lives of people in that particular area.

When you see the latest football blacklist, it really has so many different stories about how black people are impacting the game.

The people who are making an impact at the grassroots level are just as important as those who are at the top echelons of the national and international game.

These individuals all have their own journeys, have their own challenges respectively, and are making an impact that is helping the game immensely in their own way.

We want to acknowledge all those experiences and all those contributions.


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