"we are now seen as a leading agency in sport to engage black, Asian minority ethnic groups"
Following on from the success of their inaugural year, the second British Ethnic Diversity Sports Awards (BEDSA), in partnership with Sporting Equals, were held at the J W Marriott Grosvenor House in London on February 6, 2016.
This year’s awards were hosted by multi-award winning UK comedian, Paul Chowdhry. Music and entertainment came from UK talent show winner and supporting act for Beyoncé, Katy Shotter and her band.
Helen Grant MP, the Minister for Sport, Tourism and Equalities, and former government minister and Leicester City fan, Keith Vaz, who was in a buoyant mood, were amongst the 500 plus crowd of guests and nominees.
Also in attendance were English track and field athletes Denise Lewis OBE, Kriss Akabusi MBE and Jason Carl Gardner, and ex Arsenal, Spurs and England International, Sol Campbell.
CEO of Sporting Equals, Arun Kang, opened the proceeding, saying:
“Our credibility has now grown so much that we are now seen as a leading agency in sport to engage black Asian minority ethnic groups to increase the number of people playing sport at grassroots and league level as well as increasing ethnic diversity on the sport boards.”
The first award, ‘Youth Sport Trust Young Sports Person of the Year’ was won by Aston Villa and England under-17 defender, Easah Sullivan, who beat off female gymnast Ellie Downie and athlete Shara Proctor.
The ‘Professional Footballers’ Association Coach of the Year’ was awarded to Sivakumar Ramasamy, a fully qualified British Tae Kwon Do Head Coach. He is the driving force behind a special club culture which enables athletes to fulfil their sporting aspirations.
English para-badminton player Rachel Choong fended off strong competition from boxing sensation, Anthony Joshua, and British sprinter Kadeena Cox, to win the ‘UK Sport Inspirational Performance of the Year’.
Choong made history by winning three gold medals at the Para-Badminton #world Championships in Stoke Mandeville.
A jubilant Choong said: “I didn’t really expect to win this award and I am really privileged to be around these distinguished guests and to be nominated alongside all these amazing athletes.”
‘Lycamobile Sportsman of the Year’ was awarded to Lewis Hamilton after winning his third world championships surpassing Ayrton Senna’s record in Formula 1.
Heptathlon athlete Jessica Ennis-Hill won the ‘Sporting Equals Sportsman of the Year’ award for displaying immense focus and fortitude to be crowned World heptathlon champion.
This was after deciding to participate a month prior to the Beijing championships.
The biggest noise and longest speech of the night came from ‘Sport England Community Sports Project of the Year’ winners, Swim Dem Crew.
The project is the brain child of former Blue Peter presenter, Andy Akinwolere.
The crew promised to teach everyone who couldn’t swim to swim. Akinwolere said:
“There are only three black people in the world who have any swimming world records, it’s ridiculous. We are an island, we need to get in the water and swim.”
As well as honouring talented sports people, the BEDSAs are there to recognise the contribution of those who are behind the scenes working effortlessly at grassroots level in the local communities.
Raza Sadiq, a founding member of Active Life Club in Glasgow, was awarded the ‘Jaguar Unsung Hero of the Year Award’. He has dedicated over 1,000 hours volunteering his services to promoting and developing multi sports activities for the youth.
The ‘Tennis Foundation Special Recognition Award’ was handed to Rashida Salloo.
Rashida has had a passion for tennis from an early age and works with young people mainly from Indian, Pakistani and African Caribbean backgrounds.
The ‘University of Leicester Sporting Recognition’ award went to Paul Elliott CBE. The former English footballer who played for Charlton Athletic, Luton Town and Chelsea. He was the first black player to play for Celtic, and the first black defender to play in Italy.
The biggest applause and cheers were left for the final award of the night. ‘Sporting Equals Lifetime Achievement Award’ was deservedly given to former British Boxing Champion, Frank Bruno MBE.
On accepting the award, Bruno said: “I think back to the time when I was a child and Mohammed Ali was fighting at the point where I wanted to be a world champion.
“I wanted to hear the ring announcer saying Bruno the new world champion of the world. And I was privileged to hear that in 1995. That was my legend and no one can ever take that away from me.”
Here is the full list of winners of the 2016 British Ethnic Diversity Sports Awards:
The Youth Sport Trust’s Young Sports Person of the Year Award
The Jaguar Unsung Hero of the Year Award
Sport England Community Sports Project of the Year
Swim Dem Crew
Tennis Foundation Special Recognition Award
The PFA Coach of the Year
The UK Sport Inspirational Performance of the Year Award
The Sporting Equals Lifetime Achievement Award
Frank Bruno MBE
The University of Leicester Special Recognition Award
Paul Elliott CBE
The Sporting Equals Sportswoman of the Year
Jessica Ennis-Hill CBE
The Lycamobile Sportsman of the Year
Without a doubt, this night proves that people from different communities no matter what ethnicity, can come together and celebrate their successes both on and off the field.
The British Ethnic Diversity Sports Awards 2016 were a huge success in acknowledging and honouring these talented individuals.
Congratulations to all of the winners!