Whether they want to be or not, sports figures are often held up as idols and role models. Some players, such as Jordan Henderson, take up that mantle and use their visibility to speak out on issues they feel are important. Henderson has taken on a vocal role in speaking up about social issues he feels are important, such as LGBTQIA rights and visibility, as well as racial injustices.
While it’s extremely important to have an ally like Henderson, it means something else for communities to see themselves represented in the teams they love, especially in a city like Liverpool that has one of the oldest Black communities in Europe. BBC’s Football Focus Today did a feature as part of their Black History Month on what it means to the Black community in Liverpool to see, and hear, themselves represented by Trent Alexander-Arnold. The feature was presented by BBC Merseyside producer Ngunan Adamu, and she spoke with several people from Liverpool’s Black community on the impact Trent has had.
From #FootballFocus today, here is the full #BlackHistoryMonth feature I produced on @TrentAA and the impact he has had on the people of Liverpool— Kate McKenna (@Katemadeleine) October 16, 2021
Presented by @NgunanAdamu #YNWA @LFC
p.2... pic.twitter.com/rRJsHogMlP— Kate McKenna (@Katemadeleine) October 16, 2021
“It’s all good an well having role models who might look like you, but when you have role models that looks like you and talks like you, then it gives you that kind of aspiration that you can actually get there,” said Mervyn Lynch, a local DJ and musician.
Another local musician, Shak Omar, shared a similar sentiment.
“Having a Black Scouser...it’s very rare. Now Trent’s doing it on a world level, it let’s them know we exist,” said Omar.
“I think the stereotype no matter what you do is always going to jump in,” said Trey Wose, cohost of the Frentleft Podcast. “But what I like about and I rate about Trent is he’s always himself. I used to think growing up I had to be or behave in a certain way, but being myself it’s good enough.”
Stephen Nze, a board member and advisor for the Mandela8 organization, spoke of the impact Trent has had on the young community locally, and the active role he has taken.
“He’s a shining light and an example,” said Nze. “Him and his family also have looked at some of the things we are doing in the Mandela8 program and the education program. The young people in the Roots and Wings program had a zoom meeting with him, and the young people said they were made up with that. He’s really got involved in what we’re trying to do with that group.
Hannah Lynch, a DJ and founder of Studio 123 Liverpool, also spoke of the importance of young kids having someone who looks and sounds like them as a role model.
“I’ve seen kids as young as 5 or 6, and already they’re looking up to Trent,” said Lynch. “If they see him out there standing up against racism and fighting for equality...from that young age, they’re going to follow.”
It’s great to see how much Trent Alexander-Arnold means to the people of Liverpool, and it’s a good reminder about how important representation is. It’s also wonderful to see that Trent wants to be involved as a role model and a mentor for his community. He’s the Black Scouser in the team, and that means something.