No Room For Racism

How Premier League supports inclusivity in coaching

12 Apr 2024
Lionel Djagba 1

Learn about the Premier League's inclusive coaching schemes through the voices of coaches

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Three-year progress update on No Room For Racism Action Plan
Lionel Djagba's journey from academy heartbreak to coaching success
Brooks-Lynch on how self-development drives his coaching

All Premier League matches between 6 and 15 April will be dedicated to No Room For Racism, raising awareness of discrimination and celebrating diversity across the game through the League’s commitment to development of talent from all communities, especially those of under-represented groups including ethnically diverse background and women.

See: Progress update on No Room For Racism Action Plan

Inclusivity in coaching

Launched in 2020/21, the Coach Inclusion Diversity Scheme (CIDS) is a Premier League programme aimed at increasing the number of Black, Asian and mixed heritage coaches, male and female, from a variety of backgrounds in full-time coaching positions in English professional football.

CIDS participants take part in a 23-month programme with a Premier League or Category One club.

Providing a player pathway

Run in tandem to CIDS, the Professional Player to Coach Scheme (PPCS) is aimed at increasing the numbers of Black, Asian and Mixed Heritage players, both male and female, who transition into full-time coaching roles in the professional game.

PPCS is a joint programme from the Premier League, the Professional Footballers Association Charity (PFAC) and the EFL. It is open to all Professional Footballers’ Association (PFA) members at any age or stage in their careers.

It provides up to six coaches per season with a 23-month intensive work placement at EFL clubs and is jointly funded by the Premier League and the PFA, with bursaries provided to each participant via the placement club.

Impact of PL's coaching schemes

- Of 63 coaches to have progressed through the Premier League's inclusive coaching programmes, the PPCS or the Coach Inclusion and Diversity Scheme (CIDS), 56 (88 per cent) are in full-time employment with clubs. 
- All 25 coaches who have been supported through PPCS are employed as a coach in English professional football.  
- Of the 38 coaches who have been supported through the CIDS, 31 are employed in men’s English football, plus one in the Women's Super League and two more overseas.
- 45 clubs across the Premier League and EFL have engaged with either PPCS or CIDS. 
- 361 coaches are registered to the Coach Index (a self-registration system for coaches from underrepresented groups), with 72 clubs signed up to use the platform when recruiting.

Lionel Djagba (Everton)

Djagba is one example of how a coach has found success with the support of CIDS.

He is lead coach for Everton Under-10s alongside supporting other age groups. Having been released from Liverpool's Academy aged 19, Djaba then went on to work in a number of schools before applying for CIDS.

Lionel Djagba

“I am truly focused on coaching now," Djagba says. "I want to keep on learning, developing and growing. There are loads of inspirations out there too, as so many of today’s top coaches didn’t make it as professional players. It will take dedication and sacrifice, but my aim is to go as far as my ability will allow me to go in the world of coaching.

“You have got to have a certain energy about you to work in the foundation phase as well as a lot of patience. It helps that I've got a nine-year-old at home, so I can relate to them and have that empathy. They're so young, and these children must know you care for them. I just want to give them the tools to go out and express themselves.

“Working in schools also helped me understand how to handle kids of this age.

“On my journey, I feel like every step has guided me and helped to place me where I am at the moment.

“But I am truly focused on coaching now. I want to keep on learning, developing and growing. There are loads of inspirations out there too, as so many of today’s top coaches didn’t make it as professional players.

“It will take dedication and sacrifice, but my aim is to go as far as my ability will allow me to go in the world of coaching.”

Kylrn Brooks-Lynch (Brighton)

Brooks-Lynch is the Under-16s assistant head coach at Brighton & Hove Albion. In April 2021, Brooks-Lynch was busy juggling four different roles within football and education, striving to land a full-time role in Academy football. 

Just after the COVID lockdown had ended, he spotted an opportunity online, that would change everything - the Coach Inclusion and Diversity Scheme. Since then, Brooks-Lynch has progressed and flourished in his role at Brighton.

Kylrn Brooks-Lynch

“It was so surreal because the opportunity to work on that [CIDS] programme was just perfect for my education," he says. “I’d get to spend three months working with every age group, getting a feel for the whole environment, working with so many excellent coaches – and outside of that I’d also gain new qualifications and a host of amazing experiences.

“This was the break I’d been longing for, and in a flash, I was off to start it immediately.

“It’s really, really cool to be rewarded with this job, as it’s such a pivotal year for all Academy players. I guess the faith the club has shown in me, must mean I am doing something right. 

“I am lucky as I worked with these boys at Under-14 level during my placement. Joining them midway through a season is not ideal, but because we knew each other already I could hit the ground running. It’s such an enjoyable role.”

Courtney Pitt (Wolves)

Former Cambridge United and Portsmouth defender Pitt is a coach at Wolverhampton Wanderers' Academy and is part of a new generation of Black coaches making touchlines more representative of the modern game.

Pitt became one of the first graduates from the pilot PPCS and has since gone on to secure a role at Molineux. His first taste of coaching came by chance, helping out a friend who trained an amateur team.

After getting the bug for helping to improve the next generation, he became a PE teacher before starting work at Burton Albion as a scout, where he eventually transitioned into performance coaching.

Fast forward to 2024, and Pitt coaches Wolves’ U11/U12 team with a view to building the next wave of Premier League talent.

Courtney Pitt WOL

"I would not be in the industry without the PPCS," he says. "They helped me get into a professional club and that was a huge step for me.

"They [PPCS] provided me with the bespoke teachings I needed and it wasn’t just how I could develop my coaching craft, but also my personal development and my character.

"I was in the [PPCS] pilot but Benjani and Ricardo Fuller have both done the programme and are now both working with top clubs, too.

"We all played at Portsmouth. But when you think about it, it just shows you how competitive football is!"

Speaking about his future coaching ambitions, Pitt says, "I just want these young people to remember me. I saw a group of boys I used to coach recently and they all greeted me and gave me a high five. That is it. If I see players in 10 years’ time, I would hope they don’t just walk past me.

"I want to leave a lasting impression and help to build great characters. I would love for them to go on and play the game and have great careers, but the personal touch and making a real impact on someone’s life journey is what I do it for."

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