Football Black List 2022: Debra Nelson
Debra Nelson has been named on the Football Black List 2022 in the ‘Ugo Ehiogu One’s to Watch’ category, and now the country is catching up with something Football Beyond Borders’ young people, staff and supporters have known for a very long time.
Next year marks the decade since Football Beyond Borders was registered as a charity. In many ways, the organisation’s journey has resembled that of a teenager. Making the jump from community project to charitable organisation in 2014 meant being thrust into a new environment, with new regulations, new people and new priorities. Growing pains, complex decisions, making mistakes and learning from them every day.
Like many teenagers, the vision and the goal wasn’t clear. FBB wanted to support young people to be the best versions of themselves. A lot of teenagers don’t know who they want to be when they’re older, and FBB was certainly figuring that out. In 2015, FBB’s core work was focused on working with boys and had just expanded to a new school in Wandsworth, Chestnut Grove, where FBB still works today.
Enter Debra Nelson, stage left. She wasn’t having it.
“What’s this and why can’t I be a part of it?”
And that was that. Four years on the programme and three years as a staff member. Constant growth and evolution but still carrying the smile that brought joy to everyone she encountered.
In September, as Debra opened FBB’s First in the Field event, she told the room:
“I was the first girl to join FBB on an all boys programme and I was the first in my family to start the journey of becoming a presenter.”
As she said this, she smiled - confident, but humble. This platform was only just building.
After breezing her FBB journey as a pioneer, trailblazer and role model to hundreds, Debra is now embarking on a quest to become a presenter. She’s already worked with the best talent we associate with our sofas and screens. Adwoa Aboaah, Ian Wright and Alex Scott are a few of the household names that Debra has worked with. Oh, and a feature in VOGUE too.
Debra’s resilience through the last few years has been awe-inspiring. Her drive, determination and dedication to finish her University degree later this year is an achievement that has faced obstacles so high that only those closest to her will understand the true meaning of how impressive she is. The Football Black List 2022 will put many more on notice.
Options are important. For Debra, it’s only a matter of time before presenting takes her to pastures new. New opportunities, new places and new people. The 'Ones to Watch' category on the Football Black List is named after Ugo Ehiogu. He found joy in developing young talent, making a true impact in his role as the Tottenham Hotspur’s U-23s coach before he sadly passed away in April 2017. Ugo’s final tweet before his death epitomised his caring nature and generosity encouraging people to #dosomethingkind.
As a practitioner, Debra embodied the values of kindness, generosity and warmth. These daily acts are the epitome of what it means to #dosomethingkind - living those every day have made her a role model for hundreds. Debra is one of the most talented young presenters in the country, but perhaps more indicative of her character, she’s also someone who everyone just wishes was their mate.
Follow the journey...