Former Sierra Leone captain Mohamed Kallon is aware of the challenges ahead of him to establish himself and work at the highest level in Europe.
The soon to be 41-year-old was talking after earning European football’s highest coaching qualification, the Uefa Pro Licence, in Italy.
The former Inter Milan and Monaco forward is aiming at changing the narrative surrounding black coaches.
“I know there are obstacles ahead if I want to coach in Italy because it’s difficult for a black coach to have a job there,” Kallon told BBC Sport Africa.
“It’s easier for Italian nationals to secure a coaching job than foreigners because of their system.
“The fact is that black qualified coaches do struggle to get jobs at big clubs in Europe because there’s the perception that they can’t perform at the highest level.
“It’s about time we change the narrative and I want to be part of it. We need to get three to four black coaches to break through, and we’ll be there.”
Kallon pointed out that it took time for black players to establish themselves at the highest levels in European football.
“There were not lots of African players playing in Europe 30 to 40 years ago but we got there after the breakthrough,” he added.
“Players like George Weah, Samuel Eto’o, Didier Drogba, Abedi Pele to name a few did well in Europe, and got us recognised on the world stage.
“We’ve done it as footballers now we should do it as coaches. Let’s change our mind-set and how people perceive us to be.
“We should believe in ourselves that we can deliver on the highest stage.”
The delighted Kallon is hoping that his new qualification will inspire more black coaches to undertake the course.
“I’m happy that I have completed the Uefa Pro Licence course, it wasn’t easy, and the course was tedious. Thank God I have gone through it successfully,” explained Kallon.
“This latest achievement means a lot to me, my career, my family and my country.
“I was the only black coach in this year’s Italian FA Uefa Pro Licence course. I hope I’ll serve as inspiration for other African coaches to empower themselves.
“I’d encourage black coaches to fight hard to get the requisite qualifications to compete for world’s top coaching jobs, and to also to improve football technically in their respective countries.
“I know it’s not easy because the process of getting a Uefa pro licence is demanding, involves a lot of money, and time consuming, but with determination you can do it.”
He is one of only a few Africans to hold the Pro Licence along with the likes of South African Benni McCarthy and Nigerian Michael Emenalo, who was technical director and an assistant coach at Premier League club Chelsea.
Kallon, who has coached the under-17s and under-19 sides at US Major League Soccer side Houston Dynamo, already has plans on how he wants to achieve his goals.
“I want to spend the next three to four months with my family after a successful course,” he said.
“I have ten years of plans. I want to use the next five years to prepare myself for the bigger stage by starting at youth level.
“My aim for the other five years is to coach clubs in Europe or national teams around the world.
“But if I have the opportunity now to start in the big leagues I’ll grab it.”
Kallon has been working on his coaching qualifications since 2013 and has earned them from the Confederation of African Football, the US Soccer Federation and now Uefa.
The former Asian champions league winner did his latest course alongside former teammate and current Juventus coach Andre Pirlo.
“I did the Uefa pro license course with several former players including the current Juventus coach Andre Pirlo who is not a stranger to me,” he added.
“As footballers we practised together at Inter Milan, We played together at Reggina when we were sent on loan.
“We all had plans to start from Primavera (Italy’s under-19 league) to build the confidence, and prepare ourselves for bigger challenges in the future that was why he was first appointed as coach of the Juventus youth team.
“Fortunately for him he was named coach of the Juventus senior team a few weeks later, opportunity came his way and he grabbed it. I have confidence that he’ll do well. Wish him the best of luck.”
Kallon also has experience as a football administrator as the chairman of the Sierra Leone premier league club that he owns, Kallon FC.
He was disqualified from standing in the Sierra Leone Football Association presidential elections seven years ago and he’s not ruling out himself from contesting the next polls despite his coaching ambitions.
“Part of my plans for the future to empower myself in the area of sports administration because I’m also a football administrator as I own a club,” he pointed out.
“I’m one of the longest serving Chairman of a club in my country, if not longest. If I have time I will want to go as far as getting a university degree in sports administration.
“And if within the next four months a chance arises for me to contest the Sierra Leone FA presidential election I’ll assess it, and make a decision.”