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21 October 2020

England’s Nikita Parris puts pressure on FA to help BAME girls in inner cities to play elite football

England star Nikita Parris has urged the Football Association to do more in helping black, Asian and minority ethnic girls in inner-city areas to break into professional football.

The 26 year-old, who has earned 50 caps for her national side, is one of the only players from a BAME background in Phil Neville’s recent England squad, alongside Demi Stokes.

Parris said: "I do think they [BAME girls] have role models in me and Demi [Stokes].

“But also, my role models were Rachel Yankey and Anita Asanti. So there are, and there have been, players that play for England who people can look up to.

“I do think that it is imperative that we do go inside these communities and really try hard to make sure it's accessible for young people to be able to play the sport.”

She argued that there would be more diversity in the squad if more Centres of Excellence in the Women’s Super League or the Championship were closer to inner-city areas.

Parris joined Everton’s Centre of Excellence at 14 and later worked her way through the youth ranks with England before making her senior debut in 2016.

The Lyon forward added: "I have been a great advocate of saying that. You know, the Centres of Excellence in the WSL, or in the Championship, they're not actually situated in areas that are accessible for inner-city communities.

"And the vast majority of BAME athletes, or BAME participants, are going to come from these areas. So I do think that the FA does have to look at the displacement of the centres of excellence and opportunities for girls to get into elite sport, not just taking part in sessions.

“I know the FA does support a lot of activities that help players get into the sport on a participant level. But I'm talking about actually, if you believe that you're good enough to really kick on and be an England future Lioness, having that elite [coaching and facilities] support.”

The England squad are currently preparing for their friendly clash against Germany on October 27. 

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