Black Lives Matter: Hereford manager Josh Gowling calls for greater diversity in football coaching

Ten years ago while playing in League Two, Josh Gowling decided he wanted to be a manager. This week, he became Hereford boss. 

It’s been a journey that has seen him acquire a psychology degree and his UEFA B licence as well as a plethora of other coaching badges and qualifications as he steps into the world of management.

Gowling started on a path that at the time showed very little sign of a job at the end of it. Quite simply, because he was black.

But that didn’t deter him in any way. In fact, the lack of black managers inspired him.

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“I spoke to my friends and various black players and there was a lot of apprehension, but I wanted to be a manager,” he said.

“I love coaching and improving people and this just felt right for me. It inspired me even more so.”

At 36, Gowling has just been given his first management role in Conference North. He is one of only seven managers in English football’s top six tiers who are not white.

One in three players is black, but that isn’t reflected in coaching numbers. We need to look at getting a greater diversity across coaching roles.

Josh Gowling

“The colour of my skin isn’t important, the bottom line is I have to be successful,” he said.

“It doesn’t matter that I’m one of seven. I would do a disservice to the football club if my focus wasn’t on football and being the best I can be.

“I want to have a big impact on players lives, on and off the pitch. I love coaching, I love improving people and making players better.

“If I can inspire others as a black manager then even better.”

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While there is still a lack of black coaches in the game and even on his coaching courses, the Bulls boss does see change coming.

“One in three players is black, but that isn’t reflected in coaching numbers.

“We need to look at getting a greater diversity across coaching roles. The Premier League are looking at things and we’re slowly getting there.

“There’s a big disparity in numbers but with everything that’s happened over the last week things now look like changing.

“There are a lot more black coaches going into the football pyramid. The present situation has made people wake up.”

Next week, the first 12 Premier League games will give a clear indication of how big this movement is.

Players names will be replaced by ‘Black Lives Matter’ in support of change.

“One of the big things for change to happen is enforcing bigger sanctions for racist abuse by clubs and individuals,” said Gowling.

“The penalties aren’t severe enough but if they were it will make people stop and think.

“Seeing the ‘Black Lives Matter’ on shirts will start a dialogue and education. This will make people more comfortable to talk, which will bring change.”

great to be interviewed by @markmcadamtv @SkySportsNews today. Speaking on my journey into management and being at a fantastic club like @HerefordFC

Gowling played over 150 games in the EFL but never worked under a black coach and is now managing a diverse group as Hereford boss.

“We have a mix of black and white players and these events have given us a platform to talk about these issues.

“Before things would have perhaps been different but now there’s an openness and willingness to learn and understand.

“It’s about understanding culture, the way coaches speak to players and developing that understanding.

“I came through the West Brom academy and I was just seen as a player, not a black player. I looked into the first team and saw Darren Moore and Cyril Regis so I could see a pathway, that helped me as a youngster.”

Gowling has ambitions. Huge ones, and rightly so for someone that got booed as a youngster because of the colour of his skin playing in Denmark, to now managing a club he played for in 2008, he has a new path as his playing career comes towards the end.

You can tell just by speaking to Gowling that he is excited about what lies ahead.

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