It’s tough being a Black Female Football Manager, Dionne Manning, Former Luton Town Ladies?
“I have been playing football for 10 years now and I have never received racial abuse on the pitch that I have heard. Now with all the social media hype it’s giving people a platform to air their views and they don’t seem to be getting punished…”, Dionne Manning, former Luton Town FC, and coach of Warden AFC U7, in Luton, which provides a safe environment to enjoy and develop football skills.
However, Dionne was concerned about the racial abuse received by black players during Euro2021. “I was very worried about playing for the next few weeks after that as I thought what would I do if I was racially abused on the pitch how would I handle it ?”, she said.
Women’s football is growing in England…But, the road to success is still long….Dionne suggested that more support is really needed. She gave an example of some celebrities like Ed Sheeran. The financial aspect plays a crucial role in supporting women’s football such as strong sponsorship, travel expenses, etc as it can be very expensive playing.
“I play for Harlow town ladies currently but live in Luton so it’s costing me a lot each week”, recalled Dionne.
Born in Luton, Dionne’s passion for football started when she was in primary school. But, her Afro-Caribbean parents weren’t supportive. “Football was not something that my parents wanted me to be involved in…Mostly, being a girl and games on Sunday were a big no-no…”.
Despite the lack of support, Dionne’s sport’s ability didn’t disappear.
“I have switched to hockey and cricket instead….My passion for football arose when O started taking my 4-year-old boy to football training….Then I decided to carry on by joining a team…Even though I advanced in age, I was able to support myself and enjoy football now as a hobby…’ It’s been a speedy rise and Dionne found a local team, Dunstable, which signed her off after 10 minutes of the trial.
“That was the first time I’d kicked a football since high school…”, claimed Dionne.
After a successful career there, Dionne joined Tottenham Ladies Even though Spurs Ladies weren’t near the heights that time, it was great to be part of such a big club and proud to be playing each week.
” After a couple of years the club started to do really well and they wanted to up training from twice a week to 3 times and with a young son and the travel it was, unfortunately, something I couldn’t commit to”.
Dionne’s talent and skills were scouted by Luton Town’s connection. ‘I have joined Luton town ladies where I spent the next 4/5 years. Again I achieved great things here like becoming the first-ever woman to represent Luton Town FC in their kit launch. Again I was so proud and excited and for my son to see his mum on the billboards around Luton town stadium etc. I recently left Luton ladies as I’m a person who always wants to push themselves to the highest level I can so as I said I have now gone back to playing national league football and enjoying the tough challenge”.
Dionne’s passion for football led her to focus on her boy’s grassroots football team for 7 years. In 2016, she then launched her own grassroots football club, Warden AFC in Bedfordshire.
She has been the chair of the club since the launch.
Dionne is involved in local communities by coaching and scouting footballer including young people. Her grassroots team has been very successful by winning trophies and major tournaments.
But she reckoned that “it tough being a black female football manager in what has been and male-dominated environment for years”, indicated regrettably Dionne.
“I would advise anyone who is passionate about anything in life, not just football not to give him or let anyone hold you back or tell you you can’t do something. Believe in yourself as you only get one life and you have to make the most of it. Doors will close but other doors will always open if you strive to achieve”, she mentioned.
Interview by @JuniorBadila