Former Notts County and Jamaican football star, Michael Johnson has backed a new coaching initiative to encourage more Black, Asian and Ethnic minority coaches to get involved in football.

Johnson, who was born and raised in St Ann’s before moving to Clifton, paid a special visit to meet coaches taking part in an FA Level 1 coaching course set up by the Nottinghamshire FA in conjunction with the FA, Nottingham City of Football project and the Black and Asian Coaches Foundation.

The defender, who was caretaker manager at Notts County for a period in 2009, commented; “I am delighted to see programmes like this taking place in my home town of Nottingham.

“I am grateful to have had a professional career in football but it wouldn’t have happened without the support I received at grass roots level when I was growing up in St Ann’s and Clifton all those years ago.

“Kids need role models and the more that we can do to encourage coaching courses like this across Nottingham the better – Nottingham truly is the City of Football for me and I am delighted to be supporting the activity. Here’s something for you if you’re going use the searchable program on the convention site to plan your sessions; ”

The coaching course which took place at Unity Casuals Cricket Club in Lenton is designed to increase the number of Black, Asian and Ethnic minority coaches with a view to them delivering football sessions for young players throughout Nottingham later this year.

Johnson is now a coach at Birmingham City, one of the clubs he enjoyed a spell as a player at during an 18 year professional career.

Steven Pritchard, East Midlands Regional Coach Mentor at The FA added; “It has been fantastic to pull together the resources of The FA, the Black and Asian Coaches Association, the Notts FA and the Nottingham City of Football project to deliver this programme.

“Working closely together we are able to engage with more people and create role models, both male and female, that will in turn provide greater opportunities to the communities that historically football hasn’t been able to reach out to.

“Plans are already in place for the coaches from the course to deliver coaching session at the Embankment during the summer and it is hoped that an Asian Football Club will be based at Unity Casuals Cricket Club in the not too distant future.

“This coaching course would not have been possible without the support and drive of the local Asian community who have been instrumental in wanting to create opportunities for football and Unity Casuals Cricket Club have made this possible with the free use of the facilities. ”

Nottingham was crowned England’s City of Football by Sport England and will receive £1. 6million of National Lottery funding over the next two years.

Key challenges to be met include raising the levels of participation in football in Nottingham promoting the cultural, social, health and educational benefits of football, supporting diversity among those playing football, and creating new initiatives, which can be replicated across other regions in the country.

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