Foundation column | The importance of diversity

“A lot of negative things have been happening recently, but I think there is an opportunity now to spin it on its head.

“There is a chance for players and for people to be honest and open, and it can’t be ignored or brushed to the side.”

The words of Dom Fearon, a sports development coach with the Wolves Foundation, in reference to the current debate around racism both in football and society and the support from professional players for the Black Lives Matter movement.

Whilst the Wolves Foundation is not all about just football – and many of its school projects actually have nothing to do with football – the close affiliation with Wolves, and the range of diverse issues which the charity is involved in, ensures that the link between the national sport and society is never too far away.

And so, with Premier League and Championship players ‘taking a knee’ to support Black Lives Matter since returning to action, the launch of the Foundation’s ‘Golden Goals’ project in primary schools – which includes debate around equality, diversity and inclusion – could not have been more perfectly timed.

“Golden Goals is a project we are delivering, initially online, to Key Stage 2 children (aged 7 to 11) about creating goals and aspirations and how best they can try to achieve them,” explains school sports manager Tom Warren.

“Within that are other topics such as obstacles to achieving those aspirations, including equality, diversity and inclusion, and that was one area which Dom was particularly keen to get involved in.

“Young Wolves defender Cameron John has also contributed already, with an online Q&A with pupils from St Bernadette’s School in Wombourne.”

With Wolverhampton boasting such a diversity of race and culture, the chance to try and educate and inform the city’s young people is a privilege which Foundation staff both cherish and enjoy.

Sometimes, as now with the high-profile campaign being seen at the very top level of football, those worlds can collide.

“Golden Goals has a bit of everything in terms of aiming high and building self-confidence, but also equality and diversity which are a big part of the current climate,” says Dom.

“With primary school children, the earlier you can get information to them, to see how important diversity is and how beneficial it can be, is crucial.

“if we can educate the pupils on the differences between themselves and their classmates, as they grow up they can take it upon themselves to get an understanding of other people’s points of view, other people’s backgrounds and other people’s races.”

And, in returning to the words at the start of this column, Dom believes that there is now an opportunity to shine a light on diversity and equality – with everyone encouraged to make an impact.

“A lot of footballers and now making a stand and stepping up, and not just those you might expect, but others like the Burnley players did after the incident surrounding their game at Manchester City.

“At the end of the day every team is multi-cultural – week in, week out they are training together and playing together and spending time with people from different backgrounds other than their own.

“This is the time now, to put something in place in football which is continuous from grass roots level up, and combats racial and cultural issues and makes sure everyone enjoys the same opportunities.

“With the Foundation involved in so many projects, and all the different cultures within the community, we have the chance to have an influence on people in society and that is a big part of what we do.”