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HomeOther StoriesEngland Women: Fern Whelan believes diversity problem an issue

England Women: Fern Whelan believes diversity problem an issue

Former England Women defender Fern Whelan believes that the diversity problem needs to be tackled by making sure Black girls don’t drop out of football. There were just three Black or players of mixed ethnicity on Sarina Wiegman’s Euro 2022 winning team—Jess Carter, Nikita Parris, and Demi Stokes—and none of them received much playing time. Whelan, the first women’s football EDI executive for the Professional Footballers’ Association, has firsthand experience with what it might mean for a girl to not meet familiar faces who share her goals of competing in the Euro or World Cup.

“Some new players may say, “You know, I can’t connect with any of those girls in the Euros Lionesses squad because they’re primarily white and I’m a Black girl, and I don’t see that I can achieve anything in football,” when they first enter the system.” Former England Women defender Fern Whelan said. “I recently spoke with a little girl who was enrolled in the Arsenal academy. And she essentially said, “Look, I quit playing because I couldn’t connect with the sea of people around me because they were all white, and I didn’t realize it was for me.” These players, such as Demi Stokes and Nikita Parris, are present in our elite positions. They may observe them and believe, “I can relate to them.” I can understand their narrative, and I believe there is a path for me there.”

One of England’s most known players from their success at Euro 2022, Beth Mead, has recently come under fire for making debatable remarks about the lack of diversity in the Lionesses team. The Arsenal forward has subsequently claimed that her comments were misinterpreted and reaffirmed her commitment to increasing diversity in the game. Mead also discussed the subject in private with analyst and former Gunner Ian Wright. Wright and former Lioness Eniola Aluko have made an effort to shift the focus of the ensuing public discussion back to structural problems that call for a complete ecosystem approach.

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kenneth De Souza
kenneth De Souzahttps://thefootballindia.com/
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