Jamie Dapaah brings one simple question to the latest InclusiviTEA event at adidas. Speaking from his office in Fulham Football Club in London, Jamie challenges my colleagues and I to think about the role we all play in making our immediate worlds more inclusive.

Who have you helped today? What opportunities can you give to your teammates, your community, your wider work, or sports network?

Jamie Dapaah recieving recognition with shoulder tap. football, inclusion, Fulham FC, Jamie Dapaah, giving opportunities
Jamie Dapaah counts former England and Arsenal legend Ian Wright as his role model and opening doors for young black individuals to have an impact in mainstream sport.

Unfortunately…

Why is this question so important for the former Crystal Palace youth footballer? “I went through a phase in my life where every letter I opened started with the word ‘unfortunately’. They were rejection letters that were stopping me advancing in my chosen career path. I got so many ‘nos’ that I don’t want others in my community to go through the same experience.”

Jamie Dapaah has seen firsthand the difference giving opportunities can make in all communities. “As a Development Coach for Crystal Palace I could see the positivity that I can instill in players. I loved to see their progression both on the field and in the community. I find that offering things like summer camps and youth clubs can help show kids and teenagers what they actually have access to.”

“It’s not just about developing their football skills but also their social skills.”
Jamie Dapaah, Equality and Inclusion Coordinator at Fulham FC

“I didn’t make it as a professional footballer but when I started looking for a job after university, I realised I didn’t understand the pathway to get the jobs I wanted. It’s up to all of us to help guide the next generation to know how to dress, what a CV needs to contain, how to read a room etc.”

Provide a space to excel

Jamie Dapaah believes we all have the influence to initiate change. In his Fulham role Jamie starts at grassroots, “We need to give people spaces to excel. It shouldn’t be just about the first team, or the academy players, it’s about giving opportunities to everyone. I also see the value of tapping into the education side of things. We need to look at what’s happening in school, if it’s not working out for some kids it then affects their performance on the pitch and in other areas of their life.”

Football team celebrates together. Football, together, inclusion, Fulham FC, giving opportunities
Jamie Dapaah sees firsthand how youngsters can grow both on and off the field of play by when given the chance to attend youth clubs or training camps. They don’t just improve their sports skills but also see the opportunities available to them.

Positive leaders and role models really help galvanize youth. The communities I work with need to see what it’s like at the top. We need to open up our doors and provide more mentorship opportunities and internships to bring in a truly diverse group of people. Changes are happening in football; we have women becoming referees, moving into coaching, more black coaches, and Asian players. At Fulham FC we are starting a supporters project working group called Fulham For All and working with Stonewall to educate our players and fans.”

So, what changes can you make in your world and what opportunities can you give someone starting out in their business or sporting career?

I’d love to hear how you feel about giving opportunities to drive inclusion in the comments below.

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