Black History Month

Gomez: Positive black role models are so important

29 Oct 2023
Joe Gomez, Liverpool

Liverpool defender discusses the people who inspired him from his dad to former US President Barack Obama

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From coaches at grassroots football club Ten Em Bee through to his dad and the former President of the United States, Barack Obama, Liverpool's Joe Gomez has plenty of black role models that have helped shape his personal and professional life.

Now, as an established Premier League player and father himself to young son Kyrie, the Reds defender wants to take on the mantle in the same way as those who inspired him, including fellow sportsman and civil rights activist, Colin Kaepernick.

"As a young black male, I feel that black representation and role models are so important for us," Gomez said, speaking as part of Liverpool's Black History Month celebrations.

"I've seen examples of some of my peers, and some younger than me, who didn't have that guidance, I can see how quickly things can take the wrong turn.

"That representation and guidance just gives us something to aspire to, to be like, and pick up some of their principles and morals.

"There were a few key figures for me; closer to home was my dad. Being a father that was there for me and my siblings, making an effort to take us to our respective hobbies or sports and making sure that he was a consistent figure, that's something I probably can't put a price on.

"Consistency in your childhood is everything and I can't speak of it highly enough as to how much it played a part in me being the person that I am today, the principles that I have, the behaviours I picked up.

"As a child you're still getting to know yourself, there's so much distraction. Being a father myself now I can appreciate what that means. Looking up to him as a child, he was bigger than life, and I understand what it means to try and be a supportive father."

Joe Gomez, signs autographs
Joe Gomez signs autographs for fans who waited to meet him at the end of a training session in Kallang, Singapore

In his early days as an aspiring young footballer Gomez identifies clear role models who played a part in his development with their guidance and behaviour, both on and off the pitch.

"At Ten Em Bee there were two coaches, Darren and Byron, two men that definitely played a massive part," Gomez continued. "They made sure we had some sort of outlet out of the goodness of their heart.

"In the present day and recent times, Barack Obama comes to mind. Being the first black President of the United States speaks for itself, but then more so, how he carries himself as a man, just the poise and composure that I can only aspire to attain."

When it comes to bravery and sacrifice, Gomez said that quarterback Kaepernick is a standout sports hero. The former San Francisco 49ers quarterback has not played in the NFL since 2016, when he kneeled during the national anthem in protest at racial injustice and police brutality.

Kaepernick

"Understanding the consequences on his career, his financial gain, his family's life, to stay so strong and fight," added Gomez.

"To this day he will go down as a monumental figure in black history and sport full stop."

Also in this series

Part 1: How the Premier League is fighting racism
Part 2: How Sarr's family prepared him for success
Part 3: West Ham achieve Premier League equality standard
Part 4: How clubs and players supported No Room For Racism campaign
Part 5: Ogbene: It's important to teach younger generation about diversity
Part 6: Danjuma: My greatness comes from going through hardship
Part 7: How Wolves are educating young people about inclusion
Part 8: 'It's everyone's responsibility to do something about discrimination'
Part 9: Caicedo: Learning through diversity helped me reach the top
Part 10: Darren Bent on the men and women who've inspired him
Part 11: Benjamin Zephaniah on the Premier League and the legacy of Windrush
Part 12: Desailly: I looked far for my black sporting heroes
Part 13: Jimenez: Family support helped me become great
Part 14: Pittman: Sharing my knowledge will help the next generation
Part 15: Szoboszlai: My father helped me achieve the impossible
Part 16: Amadou Onana on the people who've inspired him
Part 17: Why family support is so important for Mbeumo and Wissa

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