Women of colour need a clearer pathway into football to promote inclusivity and help tackle racism in the game, journalist Melissa Reddy has said.
Despite the Lionesses successes in this summer's Women's World Cup, only 8.7 per cent of Phil Neville's side were from a black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) background.
That's in comparison to 44 per cent of the England men's squad who turned out for the equivalent competition in 2018.
Speaking on Sky Sports News' 'Tackling Racism - Women' show, Reddy said: "When you speak about under-representation of females across the board it's because it's difficult to convince yourself to get into an industry when there is no one who looks like you doing what you want to do.
"You don't feel it is possible - knowing something is possible by actually seeing it in action is a very powerful tool.
"I spoke to Nikita Parris recently and she has set up an academy in her home town of Toxteth because she wants little girls to know that they can be where she is.
"She is showing a pathway in terms of not just playing but education, training and coaching."
The power of role models…
Parris is just one of a number of players who are trying to make a difference but just as important are those who speak out against discrimination in football.
Forward Eniola Aluko had the courage to speak out about the racism and bullying she endured from within the former England management set-up with Reddy believing it has given others the strength to find their own voice in tackling the issue.
"It's important to see people you can relate to but it's also important when people do get into these positions they take the responsibility and use it to make a change.
"It's so much more powerful to see these people who you relate to are showing real strength which others can feed off."
Opportunities at all levels
One issue that was raised during the show was the lack of a BAME woman representative in the FA's new board to develop the growth of the women's game.
Again, Reddy believes the distinct lack of opportunities and a clear pathway were to blame for the issue.
"The fact there isn't anyone applying or on the board probably comes back to opportunities and pathways," added Reddy.
"They probably don't apply because they are put off because there generally isn't enough opportunities about.
"But if they got the opportunities and the roles then then it is likely to encourage more people to apply because they see the clear pathway."
Watch the 'Tackling Racism' series on Sky Sports News and Sky Sports Main Event at 9pm on Mondays.