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HomeNewsAcademy of Football celebrates Black History Month

Academy of Football celebrates Black History Month

Academy Player Care Officer Evan Hall said: “My Shirt My History has been an excellent and visual way to allow our schoolboy players to represent their family history and heritage, and the boys were proud to speak up in front of their peers about what the country and their shirts mean to them.

“We have had shirts representing Ghana, Nigeria, Jamaica, Gambia, Dominican Republic, Trinidad & Tobago, South Africa, Ivory Coast and Barbados to name a few of the countries. 

“The event celebrated Black History Month and the diversity in the Academy. It also supplemented the other work we do around equality, diversity and inclusion, working with providers in our 360Hammers life skills programme, such as Kick it Out and Stonewall with our schoolboy age groups.”

Jack Leslie talk at Chadwell Heath

Matt Tiller, the author of Jack Leslie’s biography, gave a presentation to the Academy on the life of the pioneering striker as part of the Club’s work around Black History Month.

Born in Canning Town in 1901, Leslie was an outstanding forward. He was the first Black player to be selected by England in 1925, but he was later dropped when selectors learnt the colour of his skin.

A legendary player at Plymouth Argyle, Leslie returned to east London later in life and was appointed as a kit manager by manager Ron Greenwood. 

Post-retirement, Leslie worked at West Ham in the 1960s and 70s and the book, ‘The Lion Who Never Roared’, features a chapter on his time at the Club, detailing his positive experiences spending time with the likes of Bobby Moore, Geoff Hurst, Trevor Brooking and Clyde Best.

Last season, Leslie was inducted into the National Football Hall of Fame at London Stadium, while the Club also provided funding for the Jack Leslie Statue that was unveiled at Plymouth Argyle’s Home Park last year.

Tiller said: “It’s great talking to young players, who are on the same journey as Jack Leslie but almost a century later.