Aston Villa defender Anita Asante believes football should “cast a wider net” when it comes to finding players from ethnic minorities.
With Demi Stokes injured and Nikita Parris unavailable for selection due to Covid-19 protocols, Bristol City forward Ebony Salmon was the only non-white player in the England squad for their 6-0 win over Northern Ireland on Tuesday.
And as of June 2020, only an estimated 10 to 15 per cent of players in the Women’s Super League were black – significantly less than in the men’s top tier, where black footballers account for around a third of all players.
On The Women’s Football Show, host Jessica Creighton asked Asante: “Are black girls being left behind?”
Asante replied: “The FA have acknowledged now that this is an issue and we need to provide better access points for girls from disadvantaged groups that aren’t getting the same level of resources and access to the game.
“We need to find the right pathways that are going to funnel them into talent pools and elite programmes that will get them to the highest level of the game, because we want to see a more diverse game that brings lots of different qualities for this England group in the future.”
The FA introduced their ‘Leadership Diversity Code’ at the beginning of this season, which aimed to tackle inequality across senior leadership positions.
That code was focused on hiring leaders and coaches, with specific targets set. For example, at women’s professional clubs, “15% of new coaching hires will be Black, Asian or of Mixed-Heritage”.
However, Asante, who won 71 caps for England, said there should be an active effort within the game to increase diversity and inclusion for young players too – regardless of race, gender, disability, or sexuality.