Carlton Cole: Black coaches have to be ready as the world is changing

Carlton Cole: Black coaches have to be ready as the world is changing

Former Chelsea and West Ham striker Carlton Cole says “now is the best time for aspiring black coaches” to find work, because “the world is changing”.

Since June, players in England have taken a knee before games in support of racial equality.

Thousands of people also took part in anti-racism marches in the UK after the death of American George Floyd in May.

There are five BAME managers in the top four English divisions, but Cole hopes recent events are a “turning point”.

“It’s about time there was a lot of fuss about it [racial equality] and the whole world is changing,” Cole told BBC Sport.

And Cole, now working at West Ham’s academy, believes players can also do more to help themselves.

He explained: “The more black coaches become well versed in what they want to do, the better. You have to be ready for the opportunity.

“If you don’t have the qualifications or you aren’t relatable, and other people overtake you, you cannot complain.

“[Former Newcastle and England striker] Les Ferdinand is the sporting director at Championship club QPR, but he had to go back to basics and learn about other aspects of football.

“I’m trying to get the qualifications to be effective in the boardroom and learn the business side of football too. Right now is the best time for any black aspiring coach who wants to come up to the next level.”

Cole, who scored 52 goals in 289 top flight appearances, retired from playing in March 2018, following a spell at Indonesian club Persib Bandung.

He says he is open to further employment opportunities within the game, and has encouraged football club owners to further promote diversity.

“Owners have to want diverse football clubs, in the boardroom, among the coaching staff and in the academy,” said Cole.

“You have to have diverse ethnicities because you never know when an employee might need help, and you have to facilitate that.”

‘People are scared of change’

Some football fans have booed players taking the knee since being allowed to return to matches, but Cole said people “have to have the capacity to accept change”.

The Professional Footballers’ Association says players are “overwhelmingly in support” of continuing to take a knee to highlight racial inequality, and while Cole admits he was initially “against” kneeling, he now realises its value.

“When I see people booing, they just don’t understand it. They have got their own view on the political part of BLM, which is not what we are trying to promote,” added the 37-year-old.

“People are scared of change, as I am.

“It was when somebody sat me down and explained why it’s important, I began to understand.

“Now I retract my statement. It’s a message that has to be conveyed and it should be looked at as an educational device.

“As long as the Premier League are backing it, and it’s a symbol for change, why not carry on?”