#Ball4All — “Embracing Diversity and Unity” by Ayo Mumuni

For the past 12 years, I have had the privilege of being a part of the Cork Admirals, a remarkable Irish American football team. As a black athlete, I want to share my overwhelmingly positive experiences within the team and highlight the unwavering support, respect, and inclusivity fostered by coaches Lomasney and Kelleher. Not only have they consistently focused on our abilities as athletes, but they have also cultivated an environment where diversity is embraced, and lessons extend beyond the football field.

A Color-Blind Environment
Throughout my time with the Cork Admirals, the topic of race has never been an issue. It has never even come up in conversation or been a factor in how I am treated as a member of the team. The coaches, Lomasney and Kelleher, have always emphasized the importance of abilities, skills, and character, never allowing color or ethnicity to play a role in their evaluation or treatment of players. This inclusive mindset has created a level playing field where every athlete is given an equal opportunity to showcase their talents and contribute to the team’s success.

An Incident-Free Journey
I am grateful to say that I have never encountered a single incident of discrimination or prejudice during my time with the Cork Admirals. The coaches, players, and staff have consistently exemplified respect, acceptance, and unity. Regardless of our diverse backgrounds and ethnicities, we come together as a cohesive unit, united by our shared passion for the sport. This collective focus on camaraderie and support has not only enhanced our experiences as athletes but has also contributed to building lifelong friendships and a sense of belonging.

A Welcoming Irish American Football League
Beyond my experiences with the Cork Admirals, I have observed the same level of acceptance and inclusion within the wider Irish American football league. I have witnessed players from various backgrounds and ethnicities join teams and receive the same warmth, encouragement, and mentorship that I have been fortunate to experience. Coaches across the league not only teach us about football but also instill valuable life lessons, emphasizing the importance of respect, teamwork, perseverance, and personal growth

Football and Life Lessons
One of the most significant aspects of my journey with the Cork Admirals and the Irish American football league as a whole has been the coaches’ dedication to shaping us not just as athletes but as individuals. They have gone above and beyond to provide guidance, mentorship, and support, imparting valuable life lessons both on and off the field. Through their leadership, I have seen not only my own personal growth but also witnessed the positive transformation of other players from diverse backgrounds, who have thrived under the guidance and care of our coaches.

My experience as a black athlete with the Cork Admirals has been nothing short of extraordinary. Coaches Lomasney and Kelleher have consistently fostered an environment that celebrates diversity, unity, and mutual respect. Their unwavering focus on ability rather than color has created a team dynamic where every athlete feels valued and supported. Moreover, the Irish American football league as a whole has proven to be incredibly welcoming, embracing individuals from different backgrounds and ethnicities. As I reflect on my journey, I am grateful for the valuable life lessons I have learned and the lifelong connections I have made. The Cork Admirals and the Irish American football community exemplify the power of inclusivity and the beauty of unity in sport.