Joleon Lescott has told the coaches on the Professional Player to Coach Scheme that having them as role models will inspire young players from more diverse backgrounds to get into coaching and tackle discrimination.
"Diversity isn't just a religion or a race or a gender, it's a thought process," said the ex-defender who won two Premier League titles at Manchester City.
"We need diverse mindsets because then it challenges."
Lescott was speaking to fellow ex-professionals Jon-Paul Pittman, Harrison Gilkes, Eric Odhiambo, Taff Rahman, Darren Byfield and Courtney Pitt.
They are the first six coaches on the scheme's 23-month intensive work placement and Lescott is just one of the former professionals who are supporting them.
The coaches will also be matched with mentors to help aid their progression.
The Professional Player to Coach Scheme was launched last year as a joint programme from the Premier League, the Professional Footballers Association Charity and the EFL.
It aims to increase the numbers of Black and Asian players who transition into full-time coaching roles in the professional game.
Lescott believes the coaches involved can inspire a new generation of players who can tackle discrimination in the game and wider society, such as Manchester United forward Marcus Rashford, whom he compares to the NBA star LeBron James for the inspiration he is giving for his activities off the field, such as tackling poverty.
"I do believe this current generation are perfect because you're going to get the ones that want to do it and that is when you are going to get someone who is going to make a real change," Lescott said.
"I feel Marcus Rashford could be our LeBron James.
"When you've got someone like that, that wants to make a change, they can be unstoppable."