HOPE POWELL wants more action to address the shortage of black and minority ethnic coaches at the highest levels of women’s soccer.
The Brighton chief is concerned about the lack of diversity in the lionesses’ teams.
If her Seagull beat Arsenal later in the afternoon, Powell will become the first black woman director of the Women’s Premier League to lead a team to the FA Cup Final.
The Albion coach, 54, said: “I am one of only two coaches of color in the First Division in the women’s game.
“It makes me wonder if it’s because of opportunity or if it’s just about experience and qualifications.
“But there are more and more females who are eligible, so is this about opportunities? This is something that needs to be looked at and addressed.
“In the men’s game, the number of people of color you see on the field doesn’t quite translate off the court in those leadership roles.
“The Play Diversity Act has been brought in by the Football Association to try to address that. How effective this is will be a matter of time.”
The Lewisham-born Powell, who began her managerial career in England from 1998 to 2013, is seen as a pioneer in the game by a number of former Lionesses and women’s top-flight players.
Among those who have hailed the influence of Albion Governor Mary Phillippe, the 44-year-old mayor of Beckham, who became the first black player to take charge of England in 2003.
The former Arsenal defender won 63 caps and played in two World Cups during her 13-year international career.
Powell hopes Philip will become the first of many coaches in the Women’s Premier League – and inspire others.
She added, “The important thing about my journey is that I’ve had a lot of help throughout my career.
“I think it’s really important that I try to help people be their best.
“And I hope that the likes of Mary and others will end up supporting the next next generation.”
The final final of the tournament Powell led a team to the finals of the 2009 Women’s European Championship where the Lionesses were defeated by the four-time champions Germany at the time.
The England squad that participated in that match included three black players in its starting 11: Anita Asante, Eniola Aluko and Alex Scott, as well as Leanne Sanderson and Jessica Clarke.
In recent years, the number of players from minority ethnic backgrounds in England’s top teams has declined.
I know the FA is looking to see what they can do to improve diversity which is really important because it seems like there was no representation that was there before.
Only Nikita Paris and Demi Stokes were selected to face Northern Ireland and Latvia earlier this month.
Powell sees this as the detrimental effect of a lack of local black talent at the highest levels of women’s football in England.
She said: “I think what we don’t see is maybe diversity on the pitch. It was definitely more in my day. I think there are reasons for that.
“The FA has done the right thing by wanting to professionalize the regional training centres.
“With the best will in the world, I think we did it with the training center in Brighton, but the challenge is for people to get there if they are from low-income families.
“I know the FA are looking to see what they can do to improve diversity which is really important because it seems like there was no representation that was there once.
“We had Mary Phillip, Keri Davis, Brenda Simbar. There were more people of color, it seemed.
“Internationally we’ve had Anita Ashanti and Rachel Yankee and there seems to be more. I think that’s something that needs to be addressed in the future.”
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