WATCH: Patrick Vieira, Chris Richards and Leigh Nicol go back to school to spread diversity message
Crystal Palace F.C. manager Patrick Vieira and first men and women’s team players Chris Richards and Leigh Nicol joined important conversations around race with young south Londoners to mark Black History Month and the Premier League’s No Room for Racism campaign taking place this weekend.
As part of No Room for Racism, Patrick Vieira joined conversations with 20 students from Palace for Life’s Targeted Intervention programme – which aims to divert young people away from crime – to talk about his experience dealing with racism in his career, diversity within the Premier League and Crystal Palace F.C., and how football can be used as a force for good when combatting racism in society.
Vieira was born in Senegal before moving to Dreux in France when he was 8 years old and has played in France, Italy and most notably London, before managing New York City F.C. in the US and now Crystal Palace F.C. Vieira is currently the only black manager in the Premier League and believes football can be used as a positive example to show how people from various backgrounds can live in harmony. Speaking to the students, he said:
“Football is a really good reflection of our society. I think we should use football to talk about our differences, and those differences shouldn’t stop us from living well together. An example is just looking at our dressing room, people come from all around the world, and we accept our differences and work and fight to win football matches together.”
No Room for Racism is a campaign created by the Premier League and exists to tackle racism on and off the pitch and promote equality and inclusion across all areas of football.
October also marks Black History Month in the UK. It celebrates the historical achievements and contributions of black people in this country and around the world, as well as what more needs to be done to ensure our education system is fit for purpose. New Palace recruit Chris Richards and Palace Women PFA Community Champion Leigh Nicol visited St Chads primary school in Selhurst, to join discussions with pupils about the importance of Black History Month, black role models who have inspired them in their lives and careers, as well as the benefits of having a multi-cultural dressing room at Palace.
Chris Richards grew up in the traditional ‘deep south’ in the United States so was always aware of the racism that young people can face. He said:
“Black History Month means a lot. Coming from a black family, it was definitely something relevant when I was growing up, and is still relevant today. It’s great to be able to teach younger kids about it, and hopefully, they carry it with them in their lives.”
During the workshop, Chris said one of the black models in his life is Barack Obama, Chris explained why:
“He was somebody who looked like me and was in a high-powered position in office. It was the first time ever and I think it’s really good to see somebody who looks like you. It’s always great to see that representation, no matter what level it is.”
Leigh, whose black role model in her life is ex-footballer and now BBC broadcaster Alex Scott said:
“It was great to visit St Chad’s primary today to celebrate Black History Month and educate myself further too. It was brilliant talking to the little ones and hearing how much knowledge and understanding they have already.”
Black History Month and No Room for Racism workshops are taking place across many of Palace for Life’s programmes during the month of October.