UCFB is delighted to announce the Black Lives Matter panel for this year’s Future Leaders Conference, set to take place virtually on Wednesday 3rd March.

This panel will discuss racial inequality within football, the panellists’ experiences within the game and what can be done to improve representation.

Register your attendance for the 2021 UCFB Future Leaders Conference. Register now

Luther Blissett

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The first ever black player to score a hat-trick for England, Blissett just so happened to do so on his international debut. In total he represented England 14 times and was one of the very first black players to play for the country.

The striker tops Watford FC’s all-time goalscorer and appearances record, with 186 goals in 503 games, and is widely regarded as the greatest player ever to wear their famous yellow shirt. After joining the club in 1975, Blissett proved pivotal in their famous rise from the Fourth Division to the First. In the Hornets’ first season in the top flight in 1982-83 he was the division’s top goal scorer with 27 times.

After a brief stint in Italy at AC Milan, Blissett returned to Watford, his beloved boyhood club, before a three-year spell at Bournemouth where he stormed to a goals-to-games ratio of almost one in every two matches. The Jamaican-born star then immersed himself in coaching and management after retiring from the game.

Alongside his success on the pitch, Blissett’s name is heavily associated with racial justice activists, artists and performers, who together form the ‘Luther Blissett Project’. Blissett himself may not be a part of the scheme, but he has been an advocate of racial equality throughout his career. He took a break from managing Chesham United to focus on the Windrush Motorsport Project and later founded Team48 Motorsport, a project designed to promote young racing drivers from Afro-Caribbean backgrounds.

Hope Powell

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First making the headlines as an 11-year-old girl playing for the boys’ team at her school, Powell quickly became a household name in the game. At just 16 she made her international debut for England, and powered on to 65 more caps for her country and scoring an impressive 35 goals.

After rising through the ranks of the Millwall Lionesses, and becoming the club’s greatest ever goal scorer, Powell took the initiative to form a new club, Bromley Borough, in 1991 when Millwall collapsed. The club soared through the divisions, gaining promotion to the top flight three years later. Having entered a partnership with Croydon FC, the attacking midfielder captained her team to a historic domestic double in 1995-1996.

At 31, Powell became the youngest coach of any English national team, as well as the first woman and non-white person to take the seat. The Londoner continued to shatter records, becoming the first female to gain the UEFA Pro License in 2003.

Her 15 years in charge of the England Women’s team saw them elevated to new heights, which culminated with England finishing as runners-up at Euro 2009 and the World Cup quarter finals two years later. It has long been speculated that she could become the first female to manage a men’s side, although Powell now reigns over Women’s Super League side Brighton & Hove Albion.

Powell was inducted into the English Football Hall of Fame in 2003 for her outstanding contribution to the game, an accolade shared by fellow conference speaker Sir Geoff Hurst.

Troy Townsend

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When Troy Townsend fell out of the professional game, he chose instead to focus his attention on racism in football. The former Crystal Palace academy player and Cheshunt & Leyton manager now seeks to eradicate racism in sport, hoping this will act as a catalyst for broader social change.

As Head of Development at Kick It Out, an organisation that seeks to challenge discrimination, Townsend works tirelessly to tackle racism throughout the English football pyramid. From delivering diversity workshops for the English Football League, to nurturing talented youngsters looking to break into the game, the Londoner helps combat racial inequality through both education and professional coaching.  

Townsend, who is the father of Crystal Palace midfielder Andros Townsend, has developed an Equality Inspires Programme for Premier League Academy players ranging from 9-21 years of age, as well as coaching staff and parents. He also writes a sports column for The Voice, the only Afro-Caribbean newspaper in the UK, in order to provide a further platform for positive change. 

Named as one of The FA’s 150 Grassroots Heroes and on Football’s Black List, Townsend is widely acknowledged and admired for the vital role he plays in developing the game far beyond the training ground.

Click here to register your attendance for the 2021 Future Leaders Conference.