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29 Oct 2023 | 14:14

October marked Black History Month and Sport for Development Coalition supporters have been supporting important projects, programmes and initiatives aimed at tackling some of the stubborn inequalities which persist in society.

‘Tackling health and societal inequalities’ is an over-arching theme of the #OpenGoal Shared Advocacy Framework, co-designed by supporters of the Coalition, and more often than not it is those individuals from global majority populations – including Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic communities – who bear the brunt of these inequalities. In this article, we focus on some of the initiatives which have been taking place across the Coalition’s growing UK-wide network, and beyond.


Achieving equal access and engagement in sport and physical activity, from grassroots participation to Boardroom governance, can help to tackle these inequalities, as highlighted by Viveen Taylor, Director of Equality, Diversity and Inclusion in Sport for Sport England, at the Sporting Equal Awards held in central London this month.

An impressive array of athletes, governing bodies and grassroots groups received awards at the event, including former England footballer Sol Campbell, ex Yorkshire cricketer and racism campaigner Azeem Rafiq and Krimmz Girls Youth Club from Bolton, which engages ethnically diverse communities to be more active by respecting religious commitments. The club was named community sports project of the year. Read about the Awards.


Commenting on the awards, Viveen said: “It is only by working together, with partners like Sporting Equals, that we can help to change attitudes and increase participation in sport and physical activity for all. Sporting Equals Awards are leading the way in helping to create a sporting system that’s truly inclusive and that properly reflects our society.”

To mark Black History Month without “making tokenistic posts”, Sporting Equals also published a summary of the work it is doing to “improve the opportunities for Black people to enjoy sport and physical exercise”, such as the Race Discrimination Support Service and Race Representation Index (RRI).


To celebrate this year's theme for the month which was ‘Saluting our Sisters’, Women in Sport's people and project officer Shereen Charles reflected on her experience as a black athlete and how a supportive environment helped her overcome the difficult times and progress in her professional career.

In her blog published by Sport England, Shereen reports “only 36% of black girls in England are meeting recommended activity levels, compared to 48% of white girls, and in the past five years the number of black girls saying they enjoyed taking part in sport and physical activity has plummeted from 50% to 39%”.

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As the national body aims to tackle this decline through its ‘Uniting The Movement’ strategy, Shereen reflects: “It is important to recognise that all women need a voice and a chance to be represented by someone who looks like them - and Black History Month helps by providing a platform and celebrate these women.”

During the month Coalition partner Youth Charter published its free interactive #BlackHistorywise education pack to support learning and address the stark lack of knowledge around Black British history, as highlighted by recent research from Bloomsbury Publishing (UK). Youth Charter’s educational resource covers the history of slavery, including the emancipators as well as leading Black luminaries, and can be used by teachers in all subjects on the national curriculum. “By experience I know that in high school we as pupils were only taught about Black history during Black History Month which is far from enough,” remarked the charity’s youth ambassador Elijah Kalambayi. “It's about time that there’s a change in the way learning is done.”


Sportwear brand adidas and award-winning rapper, singer and songwriter Stormzy have announced they are expanding the #Merky FC football programme, focused on improving diversity in the sport. After releasing a new report highlighting the impact of allyship within the football industry, the duo's next chapter will bring together a collective of allies for a careers programme starting January 2024. Read more.

Former England netball international Danielle Hogan, who is now Diversity and Belonging Lead at England Netball, published this blog on what Black History Month means to her. “We’re in a moment in time where we can really start to see how the learning from the past can really shape the future for Black people,” she says.

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Another governing body, the Lawn Tennis Association (LTA), announced this month that the Tennis Black List awards are to return for a second year in June 2024. Anne-Marie Batson, co-founder of the awards, commented: “The Tennis Black List is also a chance to inspire the next generation to dream big and accomplish remarkable things.”

As well as continuing the categories from 2023, for the first time next year the public will be able to vote for two of the awards – Game changer in the community and Coaching/performance – ensuring the awards are even richer and more collaborative. Read more.


Another racket sport has been addressing diversity with two new programmes unveiled by England Squash this month. Aron Harper-Robinson from Calder Community Squash, which has been piloting one of the programmes in Yorkshire, said: “Around 75 people have come to the club through our ‘Squash from the Mosque’ programme with at least half going on to acquire both individual and family memberships.”

Meanwhile in Birmingham, an archery club has been set up in a bid to get more Muslim women to take part in the sport. Crescent Archers is attracting beginners of all ages, according to BBC Midlands Today. The news follows a report published this year by Sport for Development Coalition member Muslimah Sports Association (MSA), which found 97% of women surveyed wanted more involvement in sport and 37% were not involved in any.

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Cricket Scotland marked Black History Month by publishing this article on the influence of diverse communities on Scottish cricket, in particular by the growing Afghan community. It tells the inspiring story of how teenage Afghan refugees like Omar have been integrating successfully into the local community through cricket in Aberdeenshire.

He explained: “When we first arrived, we were lonely and had nothing to do – Peterhead was very cold for us too. This was until we learned about and then joined the cricket team in Fraserburgh. Fraserburgh and the local cricket has been great for us. It has been so good meeting other people, playing other teams and seeing the surrounding area. What do I like best about the club? It’s our teammates, and just being part of the team.”

Sabir Zazai, Chief Executive at the Scottish Refugee Council, is delighted at the impact made by Afghans within Scottish cricket.


“Afghans arriving in Scotland have been through unfathomable displacement and trauma. For many people who have been stuck in hotel rooms across the UK since arriving here, it is very difficult to integrate in their new communities. But given a chance, refugees can thrive and contribute so much.

“It brings me great joy to see such positive examples of community integration in local cricket club in Scotland. Cricket is such an important part of Afghanistan’s culture, and the success of our cricketers offers hope to our people. We’re all cheering on these young players from the sidelines!”

Pic credit: Sporting Equals, LTA, Cricket Scotland.