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Ignite Sport UK coach Aliyah Anthony is determined to improve diversity in her profession by inspiring more black people to consider teaching the next generation of athletes as a career.
Aliyah has been coaching with Ignite in education sites across Oxfordshire after graduating from Middlesex University with a first in Teaching and Coaching.
To mark Black History Month, the 24-year-old is encouraging more black girls to pursue a career in coaching after concerning research by Sporting Equals revealed 21% of the BAME sports community believed they faced barriers getting into senior positions in sport.
“There are a lack of females, and a lack of black females, in coaching,” said Aliyah. “From my understanding and knowledge, coaching simply isn’t a profession that many black females want to explore. That’s what I am passionate about changing.
“Every day I see how quality sports coaching can connect participants of different backgrounds through challenges that encourage teamwork, communication and listening. Being a black female in coaching can be inspiring to others. It only takes one person to see another coaching to change someone’s interpretation.
“Ignite is doing everything within its power to make coaching as a career as inclusive as possible. It’s a collective ambition to inspire more young black girls into coaching through my engagement in schools and other education sites across Oxfordshire.”
Aliyah’s passion for sport was sparked during her childhood where she represented Oxford Blackbirds in football before later playing for Oxford United and Oxford City.
But her pathway to a career in coaching stemmed from her inspiration towards former England Women’s Head Coach Hope Powell.
Powell led the national team to the quarter finals of the FIFA Women’s World Cup in 2007 and 2011 and became the first women to achieve the UEFA Pro Licence – the highest coaching qualification – 18 years ago.
“Hope was a huge inspiration to me growing up,” said Aliyah. “Seeing a black woman lead England to the World Cup Finals was very inspiring for me, it made me think ‘if she can do it then why can’t I’?”
“I’ve applied to study my UEFA B Licence and one day aspire to coach in the professional game, that’s the dream. But I also want to be a role model to young black girls and help them to understand coaching is an extremely rewarding career open to everyone.”
Justin Merritt, CEO of Ignite Sport UK, added: “Aliyah is an integral member of our experienced and qualified team of coaches who are committed to supporting the provision of sport across Oxfordshire.
“From grassroots level right up to the professional game, sport can do more to encourage people from black and minority ethnic backgrounds to consider the
various careers our sector supports.
“Sport can use Black History Month as an inspiration to accelerate this and it is something we are very mindful of at Ignite. We’re pleased Aliyah is being so proactive in her sessions to make them inclusive to everyone.”
Black History Month has been celebrated in the UK since 1987 and takes place each October. Its purpose is to recognise the contribution and achievements of people with African or Caribbean heritage while challenging negative stereotypes.