#SJA2023: Troy Deeney claims little progress made in his fight to diversify the school curriculum

By Ayisha Gulati

Troy Deeney claims there has not been nearly enough change, almost two years after launching his campaign for a more diverse and inclusive national school curriculum.

Deeney was collecting the Sky Kick It Out Award for equality and inclusion at the SJA British Sports Awards 2023, recognising his fight against racism and discrimination.

In February 2022, Deeney wrote an open letter to the Government calling for change and, four education secretaries later, he is struggling to see progress.

He said: “Not enough real change has happened yet and the work still continues.

“It’s fairly simple – can we just all love each other a little bit better?

“As a society, we’ve made some mistakes in the past. I’ve made more mistakes than anybody in life. But own that and move forward.”

Deeney has been a professional football player since 2006 and is currently at Forest Green Rovers, but off the pitch, he has been an anti-racism campaigner for some time.

Deeney insists he will keep using his voice to advocate for change and has been visiting schools up and down the country to give talks to raise awareness on the topic, hoping for a snowball effect.

The end goal is for the teaching of Black, Asian and minority ethnic history to be made mandatory across the school curriculum, in addition to what is already taught.

Tony Burnett of Kick It Out with Troy Deeney at the SJA British Sports Awards 2023

With four children of his own, Deeney recognised the pivotal role schools play in education and giving them a diverse outlook on the world.

He said: “My kids spend more time with teachers than they do with me. It’s on the teachers to inform the kids as much as possible.

“I think we need to move away from Black History Month and similar tokens. It should just be recognising that in Maths for example, there are Black and Asian contributors.

“They can be astronauts if they want to. But we need to keep spreading love and energy and find a common ground where we can all feel included and be a little happier.”

Deeney with awards co-host Karthi Gnanasegaram

Deeney was clearly emotional about winning the award.

He added: “It was totally out of the blue. I just thought – ‘Why me?’ 

“It’s such an honour to get recognised for something like this. A real proud moment.

“I’m not doing it for recognition. I’m doing it for my kids and because I feel like it’s right. 

“I’m sure my Mum and Nan will be happy with this. And I’m sure my dad will be very proud watching down on me.”

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