Where I grew up in Peckham it was a multicultural area with lots of different people from different backgrounds, and every now and again there was the odd little bit of racism that came out but I was lucky, it was very very limited. The times it did come out more often than not was at football, which was weird. I played football in a predominantly white area outside of where I grew up and I did have to deal with a bit of racism. The first thing I did was tell my coach which I think was really important – kids should do that, don’t be scared and think ‘I’m a grass’ or something like that. When it comes to racism or being bullied the person in charge, the adult nearest to where you are working is the best person to tell so they can nip it in the bud straight away and that’s what I did. The guy never went back to the place where I was training so I won on all counts, and we won the game on the day. There’s ways to combat it and I think by telling the responsible leader there at the time, the adult, the youth leader, the teacher – it’s the right thing to do.
I’ve experienced it in the stands as well – I was only about 13 or 14 and my friend managed to get some tickets and we were sitting there and the game was going on, there were some black players on the away team. The guy in front was shouting loads of racist comments, ‘go back to where you’re from’ and making noises and stuff like that – I was just thinking ‘what’s going on?!’ and there was a policeman standing two yards to my left, so I looked up at him and he just looked right through me and carried on watching the game. I thought to myself he can hear it, I can hear it, so what’s he going to do? I thought this guy’s got to stop now but something happened and he started again. He turned around and said ‘You’re alright mate, it’s just them ones on the pitch’ and I just got up and left. I looked at the policeman and just shook my head and left the ground.
I’d say tell young people not to react to racism if possible. Racism can breed retaliation but I’d advise all young children to steer away from that because you come down to their level. Tell an adult, the teacher, go to someone who’s responsible and can deal with the situation because you don’t want to be starting fights and stuff like that, you’ll become part of the problem. Hopefully when that person gets dealt with the other children who’ve seen what happened won’t go down that same route because they’ll have seen that you get treated in a very bad way by the teachers.