Friday, 28 October 2011

Coverage of Football Black List Awards 2011

The annual Football Black List Awards held their ceremony on Wednesday night at the LOCOG offices in Canary Wharf. As it was my first time at the event I wasn't sure what to expect, but I have to say I wasn't disappointed.

Those that know me, know I can't turn down a good event, especially one with free food and drink so I was well in my element. But on a serious note, these awards weren't just about me stuffing my face. They're about the good that can come from such a simple game played by 22 men with a ball.

Leon Mann and Rodney Hinds have created an event that recognises those in the Afro-Carribean community whose work isn't just on the field of play. But is equally important nevertheless.

Natasha Meets... Chris Powell

People such as Lord Herman Ouseley, the chairman of Kick It Out. A man who remembers a time when racism and bigotry was far more prevalent in the game, and has used his influence as a FA councillor to encourage them to take the matter seriously and become part of the solution. This year, Lord Ouseley won the Keith Alexander Award; named after the former Lincoln City and Macclesfield Town manager who sadly passed away last year. His son Matt, a former agent, now Chief Scout at Notts County FC, presented the award.

The Community Award went to Lincoln Moses MBE for his work with the Continental Stars in Birmingham. CS is now a social enterprise which aims to help those in the community who others feel are hard to reach, and after meeting Lincoln, I'm not surprised he has made such a difference to so many lives. What started as simply a football club, now also runs a Homework Club and a Women's Help Group. The club also acts as Grassroots B.A.M.E (Black & Asians Minority Ethnic) advisers to the FA and the Kick It Out campaign.

Tottenham Hotspur player, Benôit Assou Ekotto, won the Off the Pitch Award. As he was unable to attend, it was collected by his team-mate, Sebastien Bassong. Benôit has used his own experiences of gang culture while growing up in France, to become an ambassador for charities such as the Evening Standards Dispossessed Fund. He has spent time with youngsters at Croydon's Potential charity, set up by Les Persaud after his 16-year-old son Stefan was murdered by a gang in 2005.
Mr Persaud said: "Benôit coming down to Croydon off his own back has been really important for these kids."

Natasha Meets... Sebastien Bassong

A Special Thank You Award was given to, Howard Holmes, of Football Unites, Racism Divides (FURD) in Sheffield. Following racist attacks in the area in 1995, the charity was created to 'do something' about the growing problem. Howard has recently taken semi-retirement after being at the helm for 15 years and was recently rewarded with a commemorative shirt by Sheffield United's, Kevin McCabe. Their aim is to ensure everyone who watches the game can do so in a safe environment. Pele attended a FURD event while visiting Sheffield and said: “Today's event shows how football brings people together and I am proud to be part of that."

Attendees included Sir Les Ferdinand, Ian Taylor, Chris Powell, Paul Elliott and Alex Song, and we all cheered these men and I know I personally, felt humbled just being in their company.

At a time when football regularly receives bad press for the ludicrous amount of money floating around; it's nice to remember that there will always be some, who are just in it for the love of the game.

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