Sport needs to have a “clear-sighted and honest” conversation about race, and how it can do more to help black, Asian and ethnically mixed communities be more active and involved, a major new campaign by Sport England will urge on Monday.
The call comes alongside the publication of a new report – Sport For All? – which finds stubbornly low rates of participation in many BAME communities.
At the launch at Villa Park on Monday, the Sport England board member Chris Grant will urge sports leaders to do more to close the “ethnicity gap”. “I’m convinced that sport must be a leader, and not a follower,” Grant will say. “That’s why I want to invite the whole of sport to come with us on this journey, and in doing so to be clear-sighted and honest about the ways in which we’re currently excluding and letting down whole swathes of our population.”
“When it suits us, we’re happy to talk about the leadership role that sport can play; its capacity to inspire a nation or to transform lives. But there’s an elevated level of discomfort when talking about race and culture in sport and we need to get beyond this if we are genuinely going to do something about the ethnicity gap.”
The study from Sport England, based on surveys of more than 100,000 adults and children, found that while the gap exists across all ethnic groups, it is most pronounced for women of black African and Asian heritage.
The new campaign seeks to lower the barriers to participation across the country and better understanding the intersectionality between issues such as ethnicity, gender, age and affluence.
“As the amazing example of Ebony Horse Club shows, if you parachute a riding club into the heart of an estate in Brixton, and properly invite local young people into it, some of them will fall in love with riding,” Grant will add. “But only a few get the chance to find out where their talent could take them.
“Denying and wasting talent on an industrial scale is not just morally wrong. As a nation, we also need to make the most of all the advantages at our disposal.”