Former footballer kicks back at racism

An ex-footballer championing racial equality in the game has graduated from Staffordshire University with first-class honours

Courtney Pitt now works as a coach at Burton Albion Football Club

Passing on my experience and what I’ve learned on the course to the people that I coach is really beneficial for myself and hopefully for them.

Courtney Pitt, BSc (Hons) Physical Education and Youth Sport Coaching

Courtney Pitt started as a youth player at Chelsea before playing professionally for clubs including Coventry City, Portsmouth and Luton Town. Now, he is working as a youth coach to inspire the next generation of players.

After completing a foundation degree at Stafford College, Courtney enrolled on the BSc (Hons) Physical Education and Youth Sport Coaching degree at Staffordshire University and was offered a job with a professional club before he even graduated

The 39-year-old from Penkridge said: “The best thing about the course is how it helped me become self-analytical and reflect on my coaching. It’s not just about the participants, it’s about how I help the participants, what I can do better and always reflecting on my type of coaching style.”

The course allows students to specialise in teaching or coaching across a range of different sports, get hands-on experience through placements, and work on a chosen research project.

In his final year, Courtney produced an impactful dissertation examining the experiences of young black footballers released from professional clubs. This work shed light on racial discrimination and cultural understanding in football and importantly allowed players to share their stories.

He said: “I went through the system myself many years ago. I’ve seen throughout my experiences how certain stereotypes can be attached to young black players. So, this was a topic close to my heart.

“Many players found themselves going out of cities into different towns and smaller places and they found that coaches there didn’t really understand them. That might have had a bearing on the coaches understanding how to get the best out of these players.”

Courtney added: “Football reflects society so there’s different subconscious biases towards people about certain things like physical attributes or intellect. I think it depends on your social upbringing and your background.”

Courtney worked as a part-time coach at Codsall Community High School’s football academy during his studies before securing a coaching job at Burton Albion Football Club through their Professional Player to Coach Scheme.

He said: “Passing on my experience and what I’ve learned on the course to the people that I coach is really beneficial for myself and hopefully for them.

“I don’t see many black coaches or black managers in the game at the moment, and if we can address that and give more opportunity to black coaches coming through and give them hope then schemes like this is what it's all about. However, it's important that black coaches attempting to forge a career within professional football don't get a sense of entitlement and constantly endeavour for self-improvement.”

Find out if you are eligible for an offer through Clearing by using our offer calculator, have a ‘live chat’ with Clearing experts at http://www.staffs.ac.uk/clearing/ or call our Clearing hotline on 0800 590 830.

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