Being Asian And Female Are Not Barriers, Thoughts Of Negativity Are – Guest Blog By Manisha Tailor
Asian females in football is usually associated with Jess, the fun football loving character in Gurinder Chadha’s ‘Bend it Like Beckham’. This film certainly provoked thought on Asian females in the game and the number involved in football both on and off the field is still significantly under-represented. Although I do believe there is a marked increase than perhaps a decade ago with the more modern generation and a wider range of opportunities for girls and females to get involved in football. The transition from ‘fun’ and a ‘career’ in the game though is still something I’d question and do not claim to have the answer to.
Having spoken to a few females, reasons for not thinking of working in football as a career ranged from them not being interested in the game, financially the money is not as good as something deemed to be more ‘professional’, roles in coaching are part time, therefore have financial implications, hours are unsociable and can be 7 days a week.
Some of what they think does bare truth, but at this point let me share my story. My love for football began when I was eight, now 34, from my twin brother. It was pretty much our life. At the age of 9 I was accepted at Barnet Football Clubs academy, however due to cultural barriers was unable to take this further. Of course naturally I was upset, but like any other child just continued with life as normal and played for ‘fun’ at school and in the park. During the 80’s and early 90’s there were not many opportunities for females in football and being Asian there were cultural barriers attached to how I would be perceived in the community. As a result, football just became a fun part of my life, something that I shared with my twin….until he became depressed due to long term bullying at aged 18. He became non-verbal and has not spoken since. From then on I had disconnected myself from all things that gave me positive memories of the time we shared, football was a huge part of that.
I went on to train as a teacher and to help me deal with the situation I fuelled all my energy into work. By the age of 30 I was a Qualified Headteacher and had also completed my Masters Degree in Leadership. All of which occurred during the time my mum had a triple heart bypass and my younger sister starting university. As my brother requires 1:1 care I decided to leave my full-time role for a few months to focus on my family.
Rachel Yankey (Arsenal Ladies/ England International) offered me part-time work as a football coach in schools which suited my home circumstance. One day, late 2011, as I returned home in kit, I found my brother staring at my equipment. He then looked at me, smiled and said, “Manisha…football”. From this day I had made the decision to pursue a career in football for it to act as a trigger to aid his recovery. Extremely challenging to leave a stable role, but I was determined.
Whilst I continue to work for the Rachel Yankey Football Programme, I am also head coach at Middlesex girls Centre of Excellence and an Academy scout at Brentford Football Club. This year I qualified as a level 3 football coach holding The FA Youth Award. I am also an education tutor for The FA and Show Racism the Red Card. I sit on the London FA Equality board and the Womens Sports Trust Grants Board. I am an ambassador for the British Asian Sporting Talent Foundation and Champion for Include Me Too which is a Disability charity (my focus will be to support sport and mental health). I also write a monthly sports column for The Asian Today. In 2013 I won the Woman in Football title at The Asian Football Awards.
This journey has by no means been easy as there were many challenges that I faced and continue to do so within the sport but also within my personal circumstance. However I have a person who inspires me and this gives me the strength and courage to strive for excellence, not just in my career, but as a person. Being Asian and a female are not barriers, but thoughts of negativity are. I start by helping my brother, but along my journey I have helped myself deal with my emotions too. My brother is my inspiration, but football is my hope. Be persistent, Be willing to learn and Be determined.
With kind thanks to Manisha Tailor
Facebook: Manisha Tailor