I recently travelled down to Wales to extend the #TellYourStory research work we’ve been doing into the impact of race and racism in sport. Last Autumn, UK Sport and the four home countries commissioned our team at AKD Solutions to deliver a lived experience report, which was published in June.
What’s interesting is that after we delivered our initial findings, Sport Wales didn’t just grasp the baton; they fully seized it! They immediately asked us to do some more extensive, in-depth work within Wales, looking at the networks and the individuals from diverse communities that make up the sporting landscape. Sport Wales wanted to listen and learn more from their sometimes harrowing experiences and dive deeper into understanding and addressing the issues at every level.
It’s been heartening that Sport Wales have leaned into this and truly want to make a difference. What is also very encouraging is the willingness of different individuals and organisations in Wales to trust in the process and embrace the opportunity to work with the national governing body to begin to make things better within their country.
I had a great time meeting different organisations and individuals, such as Newport based Asa Waite. He is a man who wears several different hats; as a community organiser, activist and someone who, most crucially, delivers. Asa is working diligently in this space to build equity and inclusion into Welsh sport. He runs a basketball club, which is dedicated to engaging with a whole host of different people, regardless of the level of basketball they bring to the court.
Asa also introduced me to some other people involved in activities that are making a powerful difference. The Sanctuary project in Newport, run by The Gap Wales, works exclusively with refugees. Project leader Mark Seymour, is doing exceptional work with this vulnerable group of people, many of whom have nothing and feel they have no place within the locations in which they are living. The project utilises sport as a vehicle to engage with and start conversations with refugees who have already suffered significant losses. The project has palpably transformed the lives of some of the participants. It has given them friendships, a community, confidence and enabled their talents to shine through.
As we advance, I hope that such individuals and groups, who are making great strides and positive differences across communities in Wales, receive the support and help they need to do even more. But more importantly, I want Sport Wales to look at those examples and utilise them to help create and bring the change necessary for sport in Wales to be equitable for people from diverse communities.
AKD Solutions has developed the ACE model that focuses on Allyship, Challenge, and Experimentation, to bring about significant organisational change. Here, I have to mention Richard Dando and Owen Burgess of Sport Wales. From the beginning of #TellYourStory, they have disrupted and challenged themselves.
Owen and Richard have been exemplars of the ACE model and have been willing to try things and experiment with us. They have been brave and encouraging in terms of their approaches, and this has been extraordinarily refreshing and led to a great working partnership.
Ladi Ajayi is Head of Sport at AKD Solutions
Main photo by Hanson Lu on Unsplash
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