FORMER Golden Jaguars captain Christopher Nurse has been appointed to the newly created MLS NEXT Equity Action Committee, a new diversity, equity and inclusion initiative that advocates for social equality in the sport of football. Nurse, 36, is one of nine members on the committee, which will guide MLS NEXT to facilitate positive changes for a more aware, equitable, just and responsible soccer community. “Being on the equity action committee allows me to influence positive change and bring more awareness and light to this area. It is an area that is often neglected and not given the attention it requires to address and act upon these issues in both society and culture,” Nurse said in an invited comment.
Football, Nurse said, in its purest form is extremely diverse and there’s a need to ensure everyone genuinely feels represented and supported.
Nurse, who started his professional career with the Kingstonian FC in the Isthmian League Premier Division, said, “I was once that young boy who had dreams of playing professionally and I was able to attain that dream and compete not just as a professional but as the captain of a national team at the highest level.”.
He added, “There were many things that I had to endure on that journey that no human should ever have to tolerate and my hope is to ensure the path for the next generation can be more admirable than it was for myself and many others.” The former Guyana National team captain, who was born in London, England, to a Jamaican mother and Guyanese father, explained that his career began just playing in the local park amongst friends. “Racism was something we experienced daily growing up. In school, all through my soccer career, in the grocery store, just walking the street, driving your car you could be racially abused just for the colour of your skin … If it’s in society, it is in sport. It was just something we had to live with. A story no-one really wanted to hear and a story you never really wanted to tell. You just got on with it,” Nurse reasoned. Nurse is now the head coach of the U-16 MLS NEXT team at Weston FC, one of the highest levels of youth football in the CONCACAF region and he believes that “it is our responsibility as role models, mentors, coaches, teachers and leaders to ensure these kids can feel safe, valued and protected from any unwarranted discrimination, harassment or racism.” Change starts with a conversation, Nurse noted, while pointing out that “if we are able to open our hearts and our minds there is so much more potential to be unleashed in the game of soccer and this can be achieved by empowering the next generation of athletes through equity, diversity and equality.”