Governmental support is one of the key elements in implementing a meaningful and successful project to improve its community citizens’ life. One important impact of governmental policy-making in England during the last 10 to 15 years was the Equality Standard for sports launched in 2004. It was the initiative of the four Home Country sports councils and UK Sport, supported by various sport organizations. It aimed to offer sports organizations assistance to reduce inequality in sport and provide better access for under-represented groups and individuals (women and girls, ethnic minority groups, people with special needs). The standard defines four levels of achievement – Foundation, Preliminary, Intermediate and Advanced. Attaining the first level is mandatory for national governmental bodies to receive funding from Sport England. The football campaign Kick it Out has set up a separate Equality Standard for Professional Clubs in 2004 with three levels. Like the national and regional sport councils, the other sports organizations themselves also adhere to equality policies (you can check it on the websites with the links provided below).
To include more Black and minority ethnic persons in the different levels of the game, the Lancashire Cricket Board started its own action plan in 2003 in the field of anti-racism. Part of the action plan was to establish local “Ethnic minority development groups“. Furthermore, the plan lists an award system for clubs to achieve “EquiMarks”, i.e. become a club that is open to Black and minority ethnic groups. The prerequisites include, for example, equality training for coaches, a strategy to recruit Black and minority ethnic coaches and a Black and minority ethnic liaison contact person.
Another example comes from professional football with the Chelsea Asian Soccer Stars. In 2009 and 2010 Chelsea FC, together with The Football Association, Kick it Out, and the Asian Media Group, launched a competition to recruit young male members for its football academy from the Asian community. The project is a reaction to the still conspicuously low participation of this population group.
An interesting project for the inclusion of young Asian Muslims has taken place under the direction of the Rugby Football League in order to learn about their perceptions and experiences with rugby. The chosen regions were Leeds, Bradford, Huddersfield and Oldham, based on a high proportion of Black and minority ethnic/Asian communities and a strong rugby tradition in the area. Contacts to local communities were established beforehand. Target groups were young males and females who had previously had little or no contact with rugby that is neither as active players nor as spectators. The research was carried out in three parts: The participants were provided with information on the game with ensuing group discussions on the stereotypes around rugby, sport and ethnic groups etc. This was followed by a match visit and a follow-up on the match and practical lessons in rugby (in different groups with indoor lessons for the girls as requested by them). The outcome might not be spectacular in itself but points to specific views from the target group that should help to shape further activities.
The Asian Football Network (AFN) was founded in London in 2004 and offered mainly strategic support to a grass-roots football movement (not necessarily limited to Asian communities). The initiative underlines its bottom-up approach and positions its website as a support and exchange forum with a variety of information including good practice case studies around the topic of Asians in football. Among the AFN’s own projects is the Coaching Pathway Programme for providing Football Association level 1 (i.e. basic) coaching courses for Asian and ethnic minority men and women together with County Football Associations. The programme is informed by research trying to understand the lack of participation from Asian communities in the existing coaching programmes; its ultimate objective is to channel more Asian and minority ethnic individuals into mainstream provision programmes.
To empower girls and women to do sports, in an area of Cardiff with a high black and minority ethnic population rate, the project workers from the health sector: the Barefoot Health Workers’ Project and the Triangle Project, an action research project at Cardiff University and funded by the Health Promotion Division for Wales together set training courses course. Over 130 women from the Yemeni, Somali, Pakistani, Indian, Bangladeshi and Chinese communities participated in the sessions. The follow-up included training courses (e.g. building capacity course, food and nutrition training), lifeguards trainings and outings to break down social isolation.
Street Games was funded by Sport England, the Football Foundation and various donations in 2007 operating in England, and Wales, and starting in Scotland in the summer of 2011. Like many recently established initiatives it has no explicit focus on migrants but on “deprived communities”. Street Games promotes doorstep sport; which is declared as “sport delivered at the right time, the right place and the right style to engage young people and make sport accessible to those who live in the most deprived areas in the UK”. It supports local projects in co-operation with sports providers, local groups, project workers but also entails a volunteer campaign “Co-operative Street Games Young Volunteers” that draws on adolescents, previously involved in Street Games projects and offers them training as well as organising national reward and recognition events as ,incentives. Further projects include fundraising workshops for local initiatives or info on case studies.
In England in the past 15 years, the focus has shifted to specific ethnic groups and to supporting anti-racist commitment towards the increased support of “deprived communities”. Sport England together with other partners set up three initiatives tackling issues round participation/inclusion and sports: Positive Futures (together with Sport Wales), Sport Action Zones and Active Communities. The target groups of all are socially deprived communities and groups (including migrants, women and girls, disabled people) with less than average participation in sport. The objective is to support local projects and the reports from the programmes indicate that a basis for success is the co-operation with deliverers who know the specific needs of the community (and ethnic groups) and ideally are part of it themselves. All programmes are still in existence. Positive Futures, which from the beginning was focused more on young criminal offenders and drug-users has been taken over by the Home Office and includes also arts and media projects and co-operates among others with FURD “Football unites, Racism divides”, a long-standing anti-racist football initiative and charity based in Sheffield. From the Sport Action Zones set up in 2000, the London North Lambeth and North Southwark Sport Action Zone seems the most active today. It has now partnerships with London boroughs and also commercial sponsors. Likewise the Active Communities Network has partnerships with corporations and for example the Premier League. Active Communities Network has recently published a detailed report of its Breaking Barriers programme for community cohesion and sport in different London boroughs with special emphasis on engaging minority ethnic communities through among others boxing and football. But it also included qualifications for youths as boxing tutor, football referee, youth worker etc. Important keys of success listed in the report are: accessible, comfortable and neutral venues and facilities; peer role models; events as incentives; co-operation with existing structures and locally identifiable staff.
It is frequently emphasized that the sport programmes can also be used as neighbourhood meetings and part of further partnerships at the neighbourhood level, which contribute to a positive identification with the neighbourhood. The Lilian Baylis Old School lies in the London borough of Lambeth with a rate of 37 % black and minority ethnic population and serious gang crime activities and violence with previously no leisure facilities. The school is a very good example of a venue turned into a successful community and sports activity center. In 2004 the school moved house; local residents and groups and the “Sport Action Zone” initiative used the old building for summer school sports activities in 2005. This was followed by more partnerships (with sport clubs, churches, commercial partners and other programmes like Positive Futures and StreetGames) to expand the programme. In this way the school has been turned into a community sports hub which offers many different sports and other activities with impressive participation figures and is used by different partners. In an area with gang crime activity and violence the Lilian Baylis Old School seems to have shaped a “neutral”, accessible and welcoming space and a focal point for the whole community, which is now also working as a model for other areas.
This football club was the winner of the Social Inclusion Award of the Rugby Football Union (RFU) 2008/2009.The Grasshoppers Rugby Football Club in Middlesex has formed connections with the Schools Sports Partnership programme to bring rugby to youngsters especially from black and minority ethnic communities. The club holds close links with the two Schools Sports Partnership teams in Hounslow and has now provided 483 hours of coaching to 2671 young people (1406 out of them were girls, 1198 came from a black or other minority ethnic groups). Even more interesting is the appointment of a community rugby coach (funded by the club and Sport England), who focuses on primary schools and the large ethnic minority in the area. The engagement of the club seemingly stems mostly from the wish to generate new junior players and volunteers which of course is legitimate.
Amateur Swimming Association and British Swimming www.swimming.org/asa/about-us/equality-and-diversity
British Cycling - www.britishcycling.org.uk/news/article/bcst-Equality
England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) - www.ecb.co.uk/ecb/one-game/statement-of-intent
Football Association (FA) - www.thefa.com/TheFA/WhatWeDo/Equality
Rugby Football League (RFL) - www.therfl.co.uk/equitydiversity/what_is
Rugby Football Union (RFU) - www.rfu.com/ManagingRugby/ClubDevelopment/Equity.aspx