FEATURE: Matthew Rhodes in conversation with Chib Chilaka

Popular Matlock Town striker Chib Chilaka has spoken of his concerns regarding racism still being an issue within football and within the UK as a whole.

The issue of systemic racism has once again appeared on the front pages of everywhere following the recent death of George Floyd. Floyd’s death has sparked powerful protests around the world demanding that change is needed for a fairer and more peaceful society for everyone. With the Black Lives Matter movement firmly under the spotlight, I asked Chib whether he believed that racism is still an issue within British football and whether it has got worse in the last few years:

“The short answer is yes. Racism is still very prevalent in English football and it does seem to be getting worse in alignment with the growth of social media; maybe politics as well, the voices of certain politicians might be stoking up certain people and giving them the boldness to express their racist views a lot more.

"So yes, there’s still a problem in football with racism. I think there’s problems all over: right from the top, from the Premier League to the Football League and those problems filter down to non-league football.”

As well as discussing the Black Lives Matter movement and how this can help combat racism within football, Chilaka also discussed the complexities of having to train during a lockdown and how to prepare for a season that nobody knows when it will actually start:

“It has been a very strange time and a very tough time as well for everyone with it being so uncertain…we’ve all just had to find ways to adjust our lives in general.

“Next season, a lot is going to be expected of us. We were told to start training early and really establish our fitness.”

The Nigerian forward spoke in detail too about his initial reaction to the surprise involvement of Rob Molloy with the Gladiators and how this suggests a very exciting future for Matlock Town while also reflecting on the struggles the club faced on and off the pitch last season.

In reference to the off the field problems, Chilaka spoke at length to describe how hard Jordan Sinnott’s death in January affected the entire Gladiators squad:

“With the loss of our dear friend and going through a relegation battle, I think mentally, we can all learn from things that we went through. It’s togetherness, I think. I know that sounds cheesy and clichéd but a lot of us had never been in that position before where we’d lost someone who you see more than our families at certain stages of the season. To lose someone who you see on a regular basis, someone that you call a friend…we just had to stick together.”

“For as long as Matlock Town exists we’ll always do everything we do to honour Jordan’s memory, to honour his family.”

You can listen to the full hour-long interview with Chib Chilaka via the following link below:

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