ColumnHow the LFC Academy celebrated Black History Month
In the first edition of our new Academy column, education manager Caitlin Hawkins tells us about the recent events the club's young players took part in for Black History Month, and the importance of celebrating and recognising different cultures.
Yes, the ultimate dream is for our players to go on and play for the first team one day but we also have a duty and a responsibility to make them a better person as well.
This is why we are constantly taking our young players out of their comfort zone and looking at different ways for them to learn and experience new challenges.
Black History Month fell during half-term so we organised some relevant learning activities.
Our U9s and U10s squads held a football festival celebrating heritage, which was a fun combination of learning and football recognising people's differences.
The day started with our players being put into teams which reflected the heritage of the player's families across the Academy.
Academy coach Gephte Mbolokele gave a presentation and outlined what heritage means and why it is important to recognise and celebrate difference.
He spoke passionately about his own lived experience coming to the UK from the Congo and becoming an adopted Scouser.
The football festival involved our U18s scholars as team managers, which gave them experience of leadership and introduced them as role models to the younger players.
For example, Kaide Gordon led the Jamaican team and Isaac Mabaya the Zimbabwe team, and they appeared to have as much fun as the younger players in this leadership role.
After our football festival, with parents in attendance, Michael Thomas gave a talk about how important it is to be different and how the club celebrate difference. He then presented the prizes, and all the boys got a medal.
The day finished by giving the boys a chance to sample different traditional foods from the countries who had just competed in the football festival.
Foods such as Polish apple pancakes, Jamaican patties and Jollof rice were all part of a tasting menu to make sure they all tried different foods whilst celebrating difference.
Our U11, U12 and U13 groups had a tour of Anfield focusing on black history, followed by a Q&A session with Howard Gayle, Liverpool's first ever black player, and Michael Thomas.
Howard and Michael spoke passionately about their experiences playing for Liverpool and under hostile environments away from home, and you could tell from the amount of questions they took how engaged the young players were with these two legends.
After the Q&A session they then went to celebrate different foods again by taking the boys to a Caribbean restaurant, Turtle Bay, in Liverpool for a team meal.
Our U14, U15 and U16 groups had a presentation which was led by the training centre head of business operations, Andrew Powlesland, supported by myself focusing on multiculturalism in an elite team.
The presentation showed them the well-known video of our manager Jürgen Klopp getting his players to celebrate their birthdays in different languages as a team as an example.
Overall, the feedback we got from players, parents and staff on these activities means they will be back next year in some form, especially the food!