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The Scottish FA has appointed a team of Football Equity Officers whose role it is to help increase the number of people from Ethnic Minority communities taking part in coaching, volunteering and playing football.

Working in the Scottish FA’s South West region is James Docherty.

James, from Greenock, has a wealth of experience working as a coach in Inverclyde under the mentorship of former Motherwell, Dundee and Greenock Morton midfielder Stuart Rafferty.

He spent time working as a coach in Vancouver in Canada where he said he was impressed by the inclusive football system.

He said: “Vancouver is a very diverse city with a population of many different ethnicities who are very well integrated socially and the football scene reflects this.

“The men’s semi pro league has teams from numerous cultures. There is Croatia SC, Inter from Italy, Serbian White Eagles , AFC Leopards from Africa, Indo Akal from India and  Sikh Temple to name a few.

“A lot of the clubs have an ethnic identity as their origins but are absolutely open to all and I was actually invited to join a few teams on different occasions.”

During his time as a coach in Inverclyde, James worked on the numerous grassroots programmes the Scottish FA offers.

He said he particularly enjoyed working on the Bank of Scotland Midnight League where teenagers are offered football at weekends.

“These were usually in areas of social deprivation were the kids sometimes get bad publicity,” he added.

“I can honestly say that I never had any major issues and felt like I was able to mentor the kids and allow them to portray themselves in a positive light through introducing some basic ground rules.

“I think we have a tolerant and welcoming nation so I am hugely optimistic that our strategic approach to football equity here will see even more people from Ethnic Minority communities involved in the game.

“I have been fortunate to have helped deliver most of the Scottish FA’s grassroots programmes in Inverclyde so have a good knowledge of what we have to offer the Ethnic Minority communities.”

Since the officers’ appointment in April 2012, work has been carried out aimed at establishing working relationships with Ethnic Minority groups and understanding where the barriers are preventing participation in football.

This has culminated in the Scottish FA’s first Football Equity Strategy which sets out how the Association will increase the number of people from Ethnic Minorities involved in football.

You can view the strategy here.

James said: “I think we have hit the ground running and have made faster progress than we predicted at the start.

“The key this year is to create long-lasting, quality opportunities to play football.

“We have formed positive relationships with many groups in the area and now it is time to build on this by tailoring our approach to better suit the needs of the communities out there.”

You can contact James 0141 886 7366 or email