Wolves Academy stars in Show Racism The Red Card workshop

The past and the present from Wolves Academy were at Molineux to play their part in educating the next generation at a Show Racism The Red Card workshop in front of almost 100 pupils.

The young people from Woden, Woodfield and Fallings Park schools took part in the event run by the SRTRC team led by Fred Harms which outlined the definition of racism, associated stereotypes and how to report incidents of racism.

A video was also shown featuring high profile footballers and sports people discussing their experiences before the Q&A which included former Wolves Academy graduate and young professional Marlon Walters, and current Academy scholar Kam Kandola, who has just put pen to paper on his first professional contract.

Walters outlined his experiences of racism during his childhood and football career, highlighting the vital role of coach Terry Connor during his time at Molineux, while Kandola, part of the PFA’s Asian Inclusion Mentoring Scheme, echoed the views of the importance of calling incidents out in order to stamp out discrimination.

“I think it’s so important that the kids access and have an understanding of what they should do if they ever experience racism,” said Walters.

“And that is even for those who see examples with others, not just receiving it directly.

“It is important to understand that it is o-k to tackle these incidents, to report it, and discuss it with a parent or teacher.

“The kids are learning, times are changing, and our children sometimes become our teachers and keep us up to date with what is current and how to deal with things.

“I felt in my time when I experienced racism I only knew one or two ways to handle it, which was of a confrontational nature.

“That method was completely ineffective, it wasn’t right, and if it had carried on it would have affected me in the long term.

“If I had been to a workshop like this when I was younger it would have helped me and given me confidence to tackle it in a more effective way.

“I had first-hand experience and sometimes it can affect you into adulthood so to have workshops like this for young people can be life-changing.”

Also joining Walters and Kandola on the panel was Seth Ejukwu, a campaign worker with Show Racism The Red Card.

Ejukwu revealed how experiencing racism at an English university first opened his eyes to the issue, going on to start his own campaigning online before landing a role with SRTRC.

In revealing how examples of racism seen at football stadia or in cricket and other sports are a reflection of society, he also quoted an analogy put forward by SRTRC’s honorary president, former goalkeeper Shaka Hislop.

“The young people here are our future leaders, and we need to educate them properly,” says Ejukwu.

“We need to make them understand what racism is and how it affects our culture, our society and our community.

“Racism is a societal thing and while football as an industry is helping to fight this problem, when it happens in football it is a reflection of the community.

“I feel that racism is still there and we are trying our best to let people know that it is still there and how we can come together as a society.

“Shaka’s analogy talks about how when the pandemic came along last year, and globally everyone was struggling, no one sat back and said that they didn’t care or it didn’t bother them.

“Everyone came together to say what do we have to do to survive?

“We need to use the same analogy for racism and shouldn’t just be saying it happens in football or it happens in cricket so it is their problem.

“We need to see it as a problem, as a pandemic, and the only way to eradicate it is to come together in the same way.”

Kandola is the only professional at Wolves from a South Asian background, and admits there is added motivation to potentially be a role model for young people to aspire to.

“I think it gives you added motivation to break that barrier and, as a South Asian, to be a role model to younger lads and try and push them to do the same,” he said.

“To be at the level I want to be at I need to keep putting in the hard work and not get caught up with having signed a professional contract and take my foot off the gas.

“I’ve got to keep working and keep improving.”

Kandola was certainly an inspiration to the young people at the workshop which provided a really successful and insightful few hours to all who attended.

“We were very pleased to support Show Racism The Red Card with their event here at Molineux,” said the Foundation’s Senior Education Officer Greg Warren.

“The impact on children to educate themselves and others in school is fantastic to see.

“Fred and the team were brilliant, and the students from our partner schools of Woodfield, Woden and Fallings Park were very engaging in the workshop and the interviews at the end were a testament to their engagement levels.

“Wolves Academy graduate Kam Kandola and Marlon Walters were also brilliant taking the time to answer questions from pupils, and giving some real life experience of previous matters and how to report it.”

For Walters meanwhile, who had been back at Molineux only a few weeks ago watching his nephew Demarai Gray play for Everton, it is always special to return to the club where he spent a decade coming through the ranks.

He went on to enjoy a successful career in non-league, and later as a coach and assistant manager, with his main role now focused on running MW Fitness & Community Care specialising in numerous areas including mentoring young people as well as health and fitness.

“Every time I come back to Molineux, or even to Wolverhampton, it feels like another home for me,” he explained.

“I met some of my closest friends here, so many great people, and it taught me discipline.

“It was a multi-cultural environment with a family-orientated atmosphere where I felt included and part of something.

“For me to be able to come back and pass on some of my values and the findings of my journey is a special day for which I am very grateful.”