Coleman backs RFL’s commitment to diversity

London Skolars coach Jermaine Coleman has said the RFL’s plans to accelerate a sport-wide commitment to Inclusion, Diversity and Anti-Discrimination is a positive step forward, but that there are still questions to be answered if it to be a success.

Two weeks ago League Express reported Coleman calling for change to allow for more equality in the game following action taken over comments made on social media about the Black Lives Matter initiative.

The first signs of change last week emerged after the RFL asked Halifax player Ed Barber to explain himself following a post on social media relating to new local Coronavirus restrictions in parts of the UK.

They also announced they were collaborating with clubs across the game to widen the reach and impact of Rugby League, diversify the game’s talent pool, improve the culture of Rugby League and clarify processes, instil confidence in and encourage reporting of discrimination and ensure appropriate sanctions are in place.

More details of these actions and targets will be shared across the sport on October 1 – the start of Black History Month.

“Some of the stuff they have said is really good and it’s good to see that they are listening to what has been said to them over the last month or so,” Coleman told League Express.

“They have reacted to that is a positive manner, so that is a big step forward and it will be interesting to see the final details. But the proof will be in the pudding and we now need to see the action.

“A lot of what I have heard from them in terms of getting that connection back in the community, diversity and getting to the player pool they are possibly missing out on, is a lot of what I have been involved in discussions with. So it’s nice that it’s been taken on board.

“There are still a lot of things being said on social media, with another post this week being complained about. It is an improvement that the RFL are looking into it. But it’s still very much reliant on people raising those concerns.

“I know the RFL is not blessed with money, but social media is the biggest platform going, so to not have the resources available to go and police it properly is a bit disappointing.

“I’d also love to hear why they feel there has been such a disconnect between the BAME community and the game. It never used to be that way.

“In the generation that came through of my age-group, there was lots of different ethnicities playing, but that has tailed off now.

“The big question for me is what has the game done to see why it has changed. It’s difficult to answer how we are going to get it back if we don’t fully understand how we lost it in the first place.

“It’s disappointing that it’s taken certain things happening to get us to this point, but these developments are a nice starting point.”

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