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Sports leaders call on sector to do more to promote minority role models

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Sports stars from minority backgrounds hold the key to sporting success in the UK, according to a panel of leaders from across the sector.

Speaking at the Fit for the Future Convention in Loughborough yesterday (30 January), former England Hockey captain Kate Richardson-Walsh and Sported CEO Chris Grant spoke candidly about issues raised last week following the appointment of Phil Neville as England manager and also the death of the footballer Cyrille Regis.

The panel urged sports bodies to do more to identify and promote trailblazers from black, Asian and ethnic minorities, as well as female players and coaches.

“This isn’t about Phil Neville, it’s about where are the role models?” asked Grant, who said he had been inspired by Regis, the third black footballer to play for England.

“I’ve been in the process of looking for role models who are ‘non-traditional’ in terms of the parts of the country where they come from.

“If you look at what’s happened in the NFL since the Rooney Rule was introduced in 2002, black coaches who’ve been appointed have outperformed the norm considerably.

“If you look at the 12 European, Olympic and World Championship competitions in women’s football since 2000, 11 of those have been won by teams coached by women.

“Organisations which have diversity outperform those which don’t, across industries.”

He shared the stage at the event, hosted by the Sport and Recreation Alliance, with UK Sport chair Katherine Grainger, Leicester Warriors Basketball coach Karl Brown, Sport and Recreation Alliance CEO Emma Boggis and Richardson-Walsh.

The former hockey player believes the appointment of Neville is indicative of a wider problem. “Why aren’t there a greater array of coaches putting their hand up for that job?” said Richardson-Walsh.

“How many Super League games and England women’s international games has Phil Neville watched?

“He knows men’s football but does he know women’s football? I want that question answered. The games are different games, using different knowledge, people and awareness.”

During the convention, delegates from the UK’s sports bodies and groups also discussed how best to measure organisational performance, including better storytelling as well as improved use of data analytics.

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Sports stars from minority backgrounds hold the key to sporting success in the UK, according to a panel of leaders from across the sector.
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