CYRILLE REGIS’S LEGACY OF HOPE
The Wednesday feature
When the world lost Cyrille Regis, we not only lost a great footballer, we lost a great man.
The pioneering player and agent achieved so much in soccer and also as a mentor and champion for those in need.
At ICM Stellar Sports we still feel the shock of his loss in January 2018, aged just 59.
But under the leadership of his widow Julia, the principles by which he lived his life are continuing to transform and enrich the lives of young people in the communities he cared so deeply about.
“Cyrille loved being a football agent, and prior to his death, he began to think about what he wanted to do in the future and how the mentoring work he was doing, with young players and young people in the community, was having a real impact,” Julia says.
“When he died we wanted to continue that work, creating a programme unpinned by his visions and values; the ‘Cyrille standard’ of believing in yourself and being of service to others. The results since then have been fantastic.”
The Cyrille Regis Legacy Trust was founded in 2019 with the aim of helping young people from disadvantaged backgrounds in the West Midlands who are passionate about football but need inspiration and support. The Trust immediately gained co-operation from the region’s footballing family as well as like-minded organisations and, of course, ICM Stellar Sports.
A celebrity golf day helped raise enough funds to develop the Trust’s “Strike A Change” programme which is a collaboration between the Trust and all six West Midlands football club foundations and – despite the challenges of covid – more than 70 young people have so far benefited with a new cohort ready to begin later this year. The results have been so impressive the Trust are hoping to expand their work even further.
“It has been amazing to see the effect the programme has on young people, to see the improvement in their self-confidence, the way it is helping them shape a new narrative of the world and what their lives can be,” says Julia.
“I see Cyrille’s DNA living on in these sessions, I see these young people going back to their schools and neighbourhoods and becoming mentors themselves, it is opening up new worlds.”
The Trust is now preparing to hold its second fundraising golf day on September 6, 2021 to support a new set of young people.
ICM Stellar Sport is sponsoring the event and Julia is hoping that sports and showbusiness celebrities who share a belief in Cyrille’s legacy will support the Trust by taking part themselves or donating auction/raffle prizes.
The Trust is also appealing for organisations or groups of friends to enter the competition, which takes place on the famous Brabazon course at the Belfry and sees teams of three joined by a celebrity for a memorable day of golf and socialising.
Cyrille, who was awarded an MBE in 2008 for services to soccer and the voluntary sector, is a giant in the history of football. His achievements on the pitch are legendary as is the dignity with which he carried himself at a time when black professional football players were a rarity and racist hostility a disgraceful fact of life.
He scored 112 goals in 297 appearances for West Bromwich Albion before joining Coventry City in 1984 and being part of their FA Cup-winning side in 1987. A move to Aston Villa followed before spells at Wolverhampton, Wycombe and Chester. He retired from football in 1996 and later joined ICM Stellar Sports as an agent, helping guide the careers of several top players.
Yet despite people like Cyrille being able to break down so many barriers, Julia is well aware that racism remains a pressing problem, which is something the Trust is challenging in its own positive way.
“Cyrille took pride in everything he did. He always said, when he stepped onto the pitch he was proud to represent the communities he played for and most importantly the fans,” she says. “His approach to the racism directed at him was to put the ball in the back of the net and never let anyone tell him they were better than him because of the colour of their skin.
“It is almost 45 years since Cyrille made his debut as a professional player and still today we see racism directed against players, especially the horrible abuse going on with social media.
“Many people ask me what Cyrille would make of players taking the knee and that is a question I am cautious about answering because I do not want to speak for him but I will say that Cyrille believed in peacefully doing whatever it takes to stand up to injustice. I am sure he would be proud of the work the Trust is doing and the positive effect it is having on the lives of people who we are able to help.”
For more details about the Cyrille Regis Legacy Trust and to find out how to enter a team or support the Celebrity Golf Day visit www.cyrilleregis.com. It costs £1,200 to enter a team of three players, each of which will be joined by a celebrity. Price includes a barbecue dinner with all the celebrities taking part as well as the raffle/auction.