Raheem Sterling and Marcus Rashford have inspired black footballers to speak up, says Derby's Max Lowe

June 17, 2020

Raheem Sterling and Marcus Rashford have inspired all young black footballers to speak up for the causes they believe in, according to Derby defender Max Lowe.

Lowe was still only 22 years old when in February, he publicly criticised a BBC pundit for saying on air that Derby's "young black players....need to go back to basics." He says without the example set by Rashford and Sterling, he would not have had the confidence to do so.

"I was nervous at first, but then I realised I need to do my part for us as a country and as a world to move forwards together.

"With what Marcus has done recently, it's first class, and I think it gives young lads comfort to be able to speak their opinion.

"With Raheem as well, if it wasn't for players like that, who we look up to, I don't think I would have been comfortable raising my opinion, and speaking about what happened at the time."

Lowe is sure there is an underlying "casual racism" in football, as he says there is in society as a whole, and he wants to be part of the discussion to change that.

"To be fair, I think it's very common now in football and I think it's just that people aren't educated on the matter, and they don't understand what they're doing wrong.

"That's what disappointed me so much at the time [with regards to the BBC dispute] and that needs to change to move forwards."

Lowe fully supports football's efforts to stand alongside the Black Lives Matter campaign, and he says following the killing of George Floyd, he senses a definite mood for change.

"It's not just black people, out in the US and in England too, that are protesting. White people are taking part as well, and I think that shows the unity of everyone.

"We have to move forwards together, and we have to get that message across - without working together, we are just going to go round in circles and that won't do anyone any good. If people are united, and know what needs to change, that's the most important thing."

Lowe feels equally strongly that there needs to be a complete overhaul of coaching in England, with much more opportunity given to black and ethnic minority players who want to progress their careers once they've hung up their boots.

"It's important we don't hide away from the fact - there aren't as many black coaches as there should be - it's pretty evident when you look in the Premier League, there's not a lot.

"Fingers crossed, I want to be a coach when I retire, and you look at the likes of Ashley Cole and Sol Campbell, and they're finding it hard - they're having to start right at the bottom. But if more black people try to get into coaching, eventually we will get to where we want to be."

Like Rashford, who helped change government policy earlier this week on the provision of free school meals to children over the summer holidays, Lowe has used his profile within football to help a situation in wider society that he feels passionately about.

During lockdown, he organised and helped pay for gift hampers, which he then delivered to local NHS workers in Derbyshire.

"I put the idea to my girlfriend, Kelci, who was working every day at the local hospital, and the club were fantastic providing gift bags, and we put them together here at home.

"It was just something to try to give back to the local community, because people were working so hard in the hospital, so I just wanted to give something back to them at this time.

"I think the nurses and people at hospitals need to be appreciated much more - even after the pandemic - because they're the real heroes."

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