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Christine Ohuruogu launches Lycamobile British Ethnic Diversity Sports Awards in Black History Month

The second annual Lycamobile British Ethnic Diversity Sports Awards (BEDSAs) was launched by former Olympic and World 400m Champion, Christine Ohuruogu MBE. Unveiled during Black History Month, the BEDSA awards are designed to recognise and celebrate the contribution of Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) sports stars.

The BEDSA launch event took place at the SportsDock, University of East London, which encourages young people to take part in sports legacy activities and is supported by BEDSA and Sporting Equals. All proceeds from the awards will go to a BEDSA Awards legacy programme, which will support these rising stars, as well as increasing participation in sports.

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Christine Ohuruogu, said: “It’s great the BEDSAs are back. Events like this are vital to increasing diversity in sport and highlighting the talent out there. It is about making young people believe and push themselves to achieve.”

Following the public vote, three nominations will be shortlisted by an independent committee formed of former athletes and sports partners including Sport England, UK Sport and Youth Sport Trust. Last year’s inaugural awards saw the cricketer Moeen Ali, gymnast Becky Downie and footballer Chris Powell receive awards in celebration of their sporting achievements.

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There will also be a special ‘Lifetime Achievement’ award presented at the BEDSAs which will recognise a top-class athlete involved in extraordinary social responsibility work for vulnerable and disadvantaged groups through sport.

Sponsored by Lycamobile and founded by Sporting Equals, the awards ceremony will be held at the J.W Marriott Grosvenor House, Park Lane, London on Saturday 6th February 2016 and will bring together sporting celebrities, grassroots sport and sporting organisations.

Sporting Equals Chief Executive Arun Kang, said: “October is an opportune time to launch such prestigious awards; it is Black History Month, and we want to acknowledge the contributions made in sport by Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic people from Britain. BEDSA’s are all about recognising the great achievements by BAME communities locally, nationally and internationally but also inspiring the next generation to take part in sport at their chosen level.”

Chris Tooley CEO Lyca mobile , addressing the audience he said “it was a great privilege to be here amongst such an array of sporting stars, it’s humbling to be here”. He felt that sport has been his passion and he has been fortunate of playing through the length and breadth of the country and around the world being a ball player. On why Lyca mobile being involved, he felt that Lyca mobile is the most ethnically diverse company in this city and Europe if not the world. Lyca has 42 nationalities and speak every language in the world operating in 20 countries and have 14 million customers and speak the world’s languages through their customers. Britain which is ethnically diverse is the home country having 2million customers and are proud to be one of the prominent telecom operators. He said that Lyca mobile is a community based company, who would like to win the battle in the street corner and support anything which is grass roots as they are a grass roots company.” You could see us very much in east London being the heartland and heavily involved in a variety of sports from both top and bottom, being mobile partner of West ham and English cricket, we are committed to sport and to be involved with a sporting award that recognises diversity in this country is something which is part of Lyca mobile and very much look forward to the nomination process and awards process in Grosvenor house”.

Paul Elliot CBE Welcoming the audience said “Sports has a wonderful place in my heart for close to thirty years within football, buts it’s the elements of sports and what it brings to us as individuals and human beings, and it’s one thing that’s important to me it’s always about quality, opportunity and there isn’t anything better that encapsulates diversity, inclusion and equality than in playing sports. Particularly in the composition of London whose fantastic attribute is its diversity! My daughter told me a very interesting stat yesterday that London has 33 boroughs and do you know that there are over 100 different languages in each of the boroughs? I think it’s important to recognise that and celebrate that diversity and success which is encapsulated beautifully in the BEDSA events. Equality, diversity and inclusion is such an intrinsic element of what society stands for. Football encapsulates that beautifully where 30% of the players are black, however have only 5 black managers, other than gender inclusion, at the senior end there are no managers. There is lot of great work to be done and leadership is required in these areas and I have to say Sporting equals, their leadership has been exceptional who need commercial support and Lyca Mobile alongside them are doing wonderfully well”.

He went on to say how sport has the ability to break down barriers and engage and why the opportunities for sport should be provided to everybody.

Andy Reed (Chair of Sport and Recreation Alliance) said “the entire sports world should buy in to what the BEDSA awards are. For me it’s great to have Sporting equals and commercial partners like Lyca mobile to be in the same room and celebrate these things together, obviously there are opportunity for others, sports trust are here sponsoring some specific category. For me it’s the passion people bring in week in week out delivering sport across our communities, 4million volunteers working in the background away from the glamour to make sports happen, we have got a long way to go. This is a good time for diversity, surveys have demonstrated time after time that discrimination takes place, there is a gender imbalance 1.4m fewer women do sport than they should, which is true of the social class and among the ethnic minority community. There is now a political understanding and a will to do something about that, my personal view on this is that money can’t follow into the sporting system. I can afford to do a sport, swimming or going to gym, why should the government be supporting at that level. We need to make money much more available to those who don’t have access due to variety of barriers. With the sports consultation out now it’s a great opportunity particularly for Sporting Equals with the work they are doing to get that across to the national governing bodies and it’s now time for them to step up. Having great commercial sponsors doesn’t give a show case as this has to go on and on and on and has to be engrained across all national governing bodies of the country”.

Arun Kang thanked all attending the event, elite athletes, media and the rest and said “Just a little background towards the awards and Sporting Equals as a charity’s work towards increasing the involvement of black, Asian and other minority in sports. From grass roots sports to elite level and also diversifying the board room of sport, this is really important to helping us to achieve our key outcomes of empowering individuals and building healthier, stronger local community, to find out more about Sporting Equals go to our website sportingequals.org.uk. One of our key initiatives in creating BEDSA were to help our wider strategy to inspire more people to get into sport and physical activity and increase participation. The initial thinking of BEDSA wasn’t like a one night bulb moment I had, it was actually the British Asian sports awards which took place at Grosvenor house park lane, and later I remember sitting with Paul when we thought it be great to take it to a wider audience, then we spoke to Mr Rajan, then sports minister Helen grant who liked the idea as well as the MP Keith Vaz, that’s where the thinking came from”. He went on to speak about driving change through communities, media and faith centres and felt these would not have been possible without sponsors Lycamobile and felt that the support from sports sector was great like sport England, UK Sport, youth sport trust, Tennis foundation, Professional footballers association, the governing bodies at sport and from the corporate sector Digimedia global & Jaguar”.

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