Black History Month runs from Feb. 1-March 1, 2021. CanPL.ca will feature articles throughout the month profiling the Canadian Premier League’s many outstanding players of colour, as well as stories about their views on the importance of Black History Month.
It’s easy to understand why HFX Wanderers FC winger Cory Bent, a 23-year-old from Preston, England, would look up to Manchester City and English national team winger Raheem Sterling.
But Bent, who also plays as winger, sees Sterling’s influence well beyond the confines of the white lines on a football pitch (or up the left touchline, to be specific). That’s why he’s nominated Sterling as one of his personal heroes for Black History Month.
“It’s easier for me to relate to Raheem Sterling because the kind of guy that he is – the way he plays football isn’t really a big part of it. I look to him as a role model anyways, regardless of what he does on the pitch,” Bent told CanPL.ca.
Sterling, who was born in Jamaica, has been speaking out about racial injustices for most of his professional career. He made headlines this past season for lambasting headlines referring to both young Black and White footballers. He also spoke out directly during last summer’s worldwide Black Lives Matter movement, and even addressed some of those who actively opposed it to his millions of social media followers.
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Bent has a fraction of Sterling’s 7.5 million Instagram followers – but the point remains.
“Being a professional athlete, I might have a bigger platform than others,” Bent said. “It’s about how the person feels within themselves. We all use whatever platform we have to be the movement for change. The scale isn’t important.”
Sterling has nearly 100 goals in over 270 appearances for English Premier League giants Liverpool and Manchester City. As one of England’s most prominent footballers, Sterling stands as a worthy person – Black or otherwise – to take on such a role, according to Bent.
“To have someone like that around the game in England who’s really moving things forward, really pushing the initiative is powerful. Whenever something happens (in regards to race inequality) he’s out in front. He doesn’t let others take control of the issue,” Bent said.
“That’s something to look up to.”