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Palace stars talk to Upper Norwood primary school pupils about the right way to deal with racism on and off the pitch – South London News

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Which is harder – keeping a clean sheet against Manchester City or answering tough questions from primary school pupils?

Crystal Palace defender Tyrick Mitchell spoke honestly with schoolchildren about his experiences tackling racism inside and outside football last week – before drawing with City on Saturday.

Nathan Ferguson, who made his Palace debut in December and has not played since, also took part.

The pair were talking at a Palace for Life Foundation event as part of the Premier League’s No Room for Racism campaign at Downsview Primary School, Biggin Way, Upper Norwood.

Mitchell said: “It’s hard, because it’s not something you want to deal with in the first place.

“The main thing is keeping your composure. If it happens in school, then tell the teacher. It’s the same thing if it happens on the pitch: tell the referee.

“In primary school you’re around so many different people, different backgrounds. But when you’re on social media you can’t control how people might perceive other backgrounds.

Crystal Palace defender Tyrick Mitchell at Downsview Primary School

“Kids seeing this can go to school with that in their heads sometimes.”

He was pleased players still take the knee. “It’s just a constant message that we’re fighting against it every day,” Mitchell added. “Every game it shows people who – you never know – it might be their first match watching. They might ask someone: ‘Oh, why are they doing that?’

“Then someone can relate and see why.

“It’s a humbling experience, because I went through this exactly like them. Unfortunately I never got to meet players like [they did].”

Ferguson said: “They need to understand how it affects people’s lives – and also how to counteract it and how to talk about it. How to fight back without actually fighting back.

“How I would react to it? Not physically. The only person that is going to lose out is me. The best thing is to get it off your chest and talk about it, so that’s what I tried to teach them.

“It was a very different time when I was younger. As a male, you’re just seen to try and suck it up. It’s not okay to experience it, but if you do experience it it’s okay to talk to someone about it.”

 

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