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Portland Timbers' Jeremy Ebobisse on the importance of having more Black coaches

Jeremy Ebobisse has become known as one of the most outspoken players in MLS when it comes to racial injustice, and the 23-year-old Portland Timbers forward continued to speak out on the latest episode of the Futbol with Grant Wahl podcast.

One of the primary topics Ebobisse addressed on the episode is the lack of Black coaches throughout professional sports, and the ways to go about changing that reality. 

"That’s a challenge and that’s the conversation that we’re having," Ebobisse told Wahl. "Do we see a pathway for Black players as they transition from their careers to the front offices and technical staffs. And the overwhelming answer if you ask the Black player pool, former and current, is no, they don’t see a pathway. We've seen other players that have fostered certain relationships that have allowed them to excel as they transition their careers. And me personally I think that’s awesome. Networking and and marketing opportunities are the crux of society and it's how you get into places.

"We don’t think that Black players have that kind of respect in a way to transition so fluidly into a different role," he continued. "Black players are often labeled with an attitude, struggling to gel into a locker room setting and are seen as inexperienced as they try to move into these later roles in their career. And that’s something that we want to right. We have seen the few that are there do a good job in their positions and be passionate about what’s going on as well." 

Portland forward Jeremy Ebobisse is one of MLS's most outspoken players on social issues and racial injustice | USA Today Sports

Ebobisse said he had conversations with MLS Commissioner Don Garber on some of these topics ahead of setting up the Black Players for Change — MLS's organization of more than 170 Black MLS players that was formed to give Black players in MLS a voice and assist in making systemic change both inside and outside of MLS.

"I think [Garber] listened, I think he’s still listening. I think he’s been very collaborative," Ebobisse said. "I think Justin Morrow said it perfectly, everyone right now, Commissioner Garber, the public, our league and our club officials are saying the right things, are doing the right things, are listening are actively seeking how can we do better. The challenge for us is going to be how can we keep that momentum going forward as trends start to normalize."

For Ebobisse, the objective is to try and make sure these issues stay at the forefront and don't fade away with time.

"We have seen this in the past where people get active for a week or a month but what kind of lasting changes comes out of that, what kind of structural change comes out of that," he said. "And everyone’s asking the right questions right now, how can we make this lasting. I think everyone has acknowledged that this is a point of no return for this country, that we have not faced in our history ever in that the more we continue to kick it down the road the worse the problem compounds. So we as Black Players for Change hope to keep that conversation going, and find the mechanisms in our community, in our league, to make sure Black players are heard, Black youth its invested in from a soccer and education point of view so that we are providing these opportunities for them when they are growing up."

Give the whole interview a listen here.

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