Meet the Team

HP2HITESH PATEL 

Executive Director

Hitesh joined the Coalition as Executive Director in April 2022 after almost two decades working in UK Civil Service where a large part of his career focused on sport at the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS). As Head of International Sport, Major Sports Events and Sports Integrity, he oversaw the UK’s engagement in international sport policy across areas including anti-corruption, anti-doping, match-fixing, governance, soft power and sport for development, representing the UK in various intergovernmental and multilateral settings including the Commonwealth, Council of Europe, EU, G20, OECD, UNESCO, UNODC and the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA). He played a leading role in the development of the ‘International Partnership against Corruption in Sport’ (IPACS) in collaboration with the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and other international sports organisations, and helped develop the first UK Code for Sports Governance working with Sport England and UK Sport.

Hitesh, who is originally from West Bromwich, led on the UK Government’s support for the programme of major sports events following the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games, including the 2013 Rugby League World Cup, 2014 Tour de France Grand Depart, 2015 Rugby World Cup, 2017 IAAF and IPC World Championships, 2019 UCI Road World Championships and last year’s UEFA Euro 2020. He also worked as Head of Music, Publishing and Copyright at DCMS where he oversaw a key workstream on the economics of music streaming. Hitesh also holds a number of voluntary roles relating to sport for development, including Chair of Sport 4 Life UK, and trustee of the Tennis Foundation and the Albion Foundation, the charitable arm of West Bromwich Albion Football Club. He is Rapporteur to UNESCO’s International Convention against Doping in Sport, a member of the Association of Summer Olympic International Federations (ASOIF) Governance Task Force, and also chaired WADA’s Independent Observer team at the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympic Games. 

Kelly SmithKELLY SMITH

Insights & Engagement Manager

Kelly co-ordinates engagement and consultation with Coalition supporters and sector stakeholders, as well as supporting the delivery of events and activities that contribute to the SFDC’s advocacy. She also supports on the impact pillar of the Coalition’s business plan through supporting the collation of data, research and resources to assist Sport for Development organisations in demonstrating their impact. 

Prior to joining the Coalition, Kelly worked as an Evaluation and Learning Consultant at inFocus Consulting. In this role she undertook numerous research and evaluation projects as well as M&E capacity building activities for organisations within the Sport for Development sectors and the wider charity sector. Kelly is a co-founder of 'Run the Bases', a Sport for Development project focused on empowering girls and young women, and she has worked and volunteered in a number of different Sport for Development organisations in the UK and internationally.

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Simon Lansley

SIMON LANSLEY

Strategic Communications Manager

Simon Lansley is the Strategic Communications Manager of the Sport for Development Coalition. He leads and co-ordinates all Coalition activity around its brand and narrative, working in collaboration with Communication Leads at organisations across the network. He also oversees all PR and media engagement, and digital and social media activity.

Prior to joining the Coalition, Simon spent 16 years at the UK’s national news agency, the Press Association, where he was Sports Editor and Editorial Director, before moving into the Sport for Development sector as Head of Marketing & Communications for Street League, the sport for employability charity. He has also worked as a consultant for numerous charities and governing bodies in and around sport, ranging from FIFA and the Football Association to Terre des Hommes and Amnesty. Originally from Wolverhampton, Simon is founder of ConnectSport, the not-for-profit media channel and online directory focused on sport for social change in the UK, and is Senior Consultant for the International Platform on Sport and Development, sportanddev.

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Meet the Sport for Development Coalition Board