ALL SMILES: CEO of Sporting Equals, Arun Kang with former Olympian Denise Lewis
PARTICIPATION IN sport from those within Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) communities is low, but the Lycamobile British Ethnic Diversity Sports Awards (BEDSAs) and Sporting Equals are working to change that.
The Lycamobile BEDSAs, which are now in their third year, are organised by Sporting Equals, the national partner of Sport England and advisors to the Department of Culture, Media and Sport. The awards are leading the way in recognising and celebrating sporting excellence within BAME communities.
BEDSA is Sporting Equals’ flagship project, aiming to increase BAME participation across sports at all levels due to low percentages of BAME communities getting involved at present.
The awards, staged on March 18, aim to push change in sports by creating BAME role models that the next generation can look up to. They do this by showcasing, celebrating and rewarding the contributions that such BAME sportspeople have made in their respective sports.
CEO of Sporting Equals, Arun Kang, said: “The BEDSAs were created to acknowledge the great contribution already made by BAME communities and celebrate those achievements but also to inspire more people to do sport.
“This year we intend to also showcase the wider benefits of sport and how sport can help with mental wellbeing and community cohesion.”
High-profile BAME nominees for this year’s awards include Sir Mo Farah, the two-time double Olympic gold medalist for 5000 and 10,000 metres.
Sir Mo will go head to head with Saracens and England second row forward, Maro Itoje, Olympic Taekwondo silver medalist, Lutalo Muhamad and two-time Olympic rower and gold medal winner at the Rio Olympics, Mohamed Sbihi, for the coveted Sportsman of the Year award.
The finalists for Sportswoman of the Year Award feature London 2012 Olympic gold medalist, Dame Jessica Ennis-Hill and Nicola Adams, the two-time Olympic boxing champion.
Adams was the first woman to win an Olympic boxing gold medal and is officially Great Britain’s most successful female boxer.
Adams openly encourages people of all ages and abilities to get involved with their local sports club, a motion which fits with BEDSA’s own ethos.
Joining them on the list of finalists is Kadeena Cox, the first British Paralympian to win gold medals in multiple sports at the same Olympic Games since 1984.
Great Britain Cycling Team Para-cycling head coach, Jon Norfolk, said: “Kadeena enjoyed a fantastic 2016. To win gold medals in two different sports was incredible and she is an outstanding example of somebody who has overcome significant adversity to achieve their goals.”
Densign White, Sporting Equals chairman and three time judo Olympian, commenting on this year’s awards said: “We are delighted by the quality of our shortlist for the 2017 BEDSAs and looking forward to celebrating all that is good in BAME sport at the Hilton Park Lane with Sir Lenny Henry and our esteemed sporting guests.”
Sporting Equals are thrilled to have secured BAME advocate, Sir Lenny Henry to host the event. Henry has been recognised multiple times for his work with championing diversity. He received the Harvey Lee Award for Outstanding Contribution to Broadcasting in 2015.
The awards chairman Gideon Spanier said: “No one has done more to speak out against what he calls the ‘appalling’ lack of diversity in broadcasting”.
The Lycamobile BEDSAs are supported by Sport England, UK Sport, The Tennis Foundation, Youth Sport Trust, England Athletics, The Armed Forces, Mind and Spirit of 2012.