More people from black and minority ethnic communities into sport and physical activity conference 27 March, Birmingham

A one-day conference teaching new ways of engaging and retaining participants in sport and physical activity from BME communities

 27th March 2014

Signing Tree Conference Centre,

Birmingham B16 8SZ

 Real stories and successes to be told, lessons to be learnt,

ideas and experiences to be shared

Why it matters

Nearly 20% of England’s population is made up of people from BME backgrounds. Data suggests that Asian and Black groups have the lowest participation rates in sport and physical activity and some ethnic groups have an activity level less than half those of the general population.

Latent demand in these groups is high and amongst females is highest, with seven in ten BME females (71.2%) wanting to do more sport or recreational physical activity than they currently do.

Improving health concerns related to obesity, heart disease and mental health, which post a significant threat to some ethnic communities e.g. South Asian men are 50% more likely to have a heart attack or angina than men in the general population. Not only that, but Sport England research has shown that a million more people across the country playing sport each week could save the taxpayer 22.5bn in health and associated costs.

Stronger communities can be established through increased sports participation, creating opportunities for community cohesion and the development of community networks, providing positive activities for young people.


This one-day event will provide examples of good practice on increasing participation in sport and physical activity for people from ethnically diverse communities. Attendees can learn ideas to suit their own environment. Pick up helpful insight, learning from people themselves and the providers who have been successful. Use the ideas to shape your sporting and physical activity opportunities to provide experiences for everyone involved.

This is not a conference packed with policy presentation. We hope people will leave the event knowing they have heard some great practical ideas and having learned how to make positive changes of their own.

 Delegates will come from the health sector, education sector, governing bodies of sport, sports clubs, local authorities, county sports partnerships, community enterprises, faith groups, commercial companies, community/sports trusts.


8.30 – 9.15 Registration Tea and Coffee

9.15 – 9.20 Welcome from Chair

Svend Elkjaer, Founder/Director, Sports Marketing Network

9.20 – 9.40 Understanding & Engaging BME Communities in Sport & Physical Activity

Arun Khan and  Shaheen Bi, Sporting Equals

Sporting Equals is a charity and the only UK-wide organisation working to increase ethnic diversity across sport and physical activity. As national partner of Sport England, they provide advice and support to governing bodies of sport, County Sports Partnerships, and also work with local authorities and professional sports clubs to engage black and minority ethnic (BME) communities into sport at their chosen level.

Sporting Equals has developed new insight into BME markets that has enabled them to get a better understanding of BME communities and participation in sport and physical activity. This has resulted in the development of BME “archetypes” (e.g. “culturally excluded”, “interested but inactive”, “occasionals with potential”) which they will be researching further in order to use as a basis for developing interventions in partnership with sports providers and other relevant stakeholders.

 Sporting Equals has developed innovative approaches to increase BME participation in sport and this includes their faith centre model, use of cultural events, ethnic media and Inclusive Club.

Arun Kang is the CEO of Sporting Equals and has developed the organisation to ensure that it is now recognised as one of the leading experts on equality and diversity in sport

9.40 – 10.15 Attracting Asian women into sport through engagement and communication Salma Bi, Sporting Pathways

Sporting Pathways is a Community Interest Company run by female coaches who are ex players and people who have come from a background which has not provided many the sporting opportunities whilst they were growing up.

As female Asian coaches they make participants aware that ethnic groups have previously taken part in sports and there is strong focus on ‘listening to the participants’ lives’ by organising women only sessions at respectable times and being vigilant on clothing and respecting all forms of religion.

They are heavy users of word of mouth and social media, such as YouTube, using a profile which attracts similar participants.  They are always available on the end of the phone or laptop to answer any questions.

It is a user friendly approach which gives each individual a taste for themselves rather than attracting people with a sporting background only.
This presentation will cover the challenges and opportunities that Sporting Pathways has faced since their launch to hosting five national sporting events involving over 400 women/girls in the space of 14 months.

Salma Bi is the first Muslim woman to have played County Cricket and is co-founder of Sporting Pathways

10.15 – 10.50 From a group of Asian lads in a garage to 35 nationalities being active together Imran Atcha, The Friendship Cafe

The Friendship Café is a registered charity running a gym that was started off over 20 years ago by group of Asian lads in a garage. ‘GymNation’ is now used by more than 35 nationalities and open seven days a week, serving over 200 people a week, with specific sessions for women only.

In 2001 they set up The Friendship Cafe, used as a base for different on and off-site activities. They run swimming, archery and a self-defence club for both boys and girls. They also arrange rock-climbing, canoeing, sailing and other outdoor sports and have featured in national magazines and on TV. They were the first group in the South West to run same-sex swimming instructor courses and have their own qualified swimming teachers, gym instructors and even horseback archery referees and falconry experts. In 2011 they took over the running of a ‘city farm’ and this year they are hoping to open their very own riding school to teach children and adults horse riding.

Imran Atcha has been involved in community work for many years in both in a paid and voluntary capacity. He works full-time for The Friendship Cafe, as the youth worker and the Coordinator.

10.40 – 11.15 Cricket – bringing shadow leagues into mainstream

Gulfraz Riaz, Development Manager, Club Cricket Conference

Club Cricket Conference has been in existence for 99 years and celebrates its centenary in 2015. Today, CCC has close to 1300 hundred clubs as members or affiliated via leagues, across south eastern England. It provides a fixture bureau for member clubs to find matches in their region throughout the playing season and operates an advisory service to help support clubs with specific issues that may confront them from time to time.

For a good many years South Asian Cricket leagues have been developing and growing across England.  The undoubted talent exhibited is increasingly being recognised through the county system with many South Asian players now playing professionally. However more needs to be done and CCC along with others is at the forefront of assisting in the development of this existing talent pool and engaging with the leagues/clubs across a range of areas.”

Gulfraz Riaz is the Cricket Development Manager for the Club Cricket Conference and has worked closely with the England and Wales Cricket Board and various County Board at National and Regional levels.

 11.15 – 11.35 Tea/Coffee Break

 11.35 – 12.10 Engaging refugee communities by breaking down barriers and providing new opportunities Mizan Rahman, Welsh Football Trust

The Welsh Football Trust is a charity organisation established by the Football Association of Wales to encourage more children in Wales to play football, to develop player and coaching talent and to support the future success of Welsh national teams. The Welsh Football Trust has a BME football programme which aims to engage people from different ethnic backgrounds to get into football in either a playing, coaching or volunteering basis.

One of their recent successes is the Development of the ‘Cymru Refugee Football League’, set up following an identified lack of football opportunities in Cardiff for asylum seekers and refugee players. The project looked to break down some of the traditional barriers to participation (finance, transport, accessibility) and provide both a participation and education opportunity to members of the refugee community.

Mizan Rahman has managed the Welsh Football Trust BME programme since its inception. He has worked mainly in the catering and fitness industry before being employed by the Trust since 2009. His job is to develop new and existing opportunities in football for citizens from a BME background in Wales. Mizan wrote the first ever strategy for BME Football Inclusion in Wales.

12.10 – 12.45 How football can help bring people together from multi-cultural communities Trevor Hutton, Community Football Federation 

 Trevor founded AFC Wembley in 2007 with the motto ‘Development for Success’. Located in Brent in North London, AFC Wembley has provided a strong base for young people from some of the most deprived areas in the UK with an opportunity to develop their self-esteem, confidence and health and fitness.

Based on the success of AFC Wembley Trevor has now founded the Community Football Federation (‘CFF’). Working with the local County FAs, local authorities and other partners the aim of the CFF is to bring together everybody from local multi-cultural communities at grassroots level and introduce them to the various formats of football and to use that for the good of people and their communities.

A key plank in CFF’s work is that communities have to engage with and ‘own’ any sporting and community initiatives if they are to be successful and sustainable.

In May 2014 the CFF will be running the inaugural Youth International Tournament at the Westway Sports Centre in London. This football tournament for under 14s will feature teams from a number of countries with UK-based children from those countries.

Trevor Hutton is Director/Project Co-ordinator at the Community Football Federation.

 12.45 – 13.10 Over to you Delegates are discussing specific issues facing sport for development in groups, each covering a different topic. Delegates can choose which group they want to join. 

Topics covered:

  1. Income generation
  2. Community engagement
  3. Communication
  4. Working with non-sport partners

13.10 – 14.00 Lunch

14.00 – 14.35 Engaging the third sector to promote and develop sporting provision

Kash Taank, Glasgow Life/SEMSA

Glasgow Life, a statutory provider of services, created and continues to develop a rather unique partnership with the Scottish Ethnic Minority Sports Association (SEMSA), a third sector organisation, with a view to provide sporting opportunities for Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic communities.

The need to ensure a targeted approach to service provision for those most in need is evidenced by this engagement, with an aspiration to promote the benefits of sport and physical activity. Such communities remain disenfranchised and on the periphery when it comes to making sporting choices as often cultural and religious sensitivities are ignored.

Further, the need to maintain a balance between income generation and meeting latent demand in these rather difficult financial times remains a challenge.Initiatives include the formation of advisory groups to inform and lead on specific projects conducive to need to building real capacity of organisations with the overall aim to mainstream provision.

 Kash Taank has worked within race equality and sport for over 20 years mainly within local Government.

 14.35 -15.10 Engaging with BME people and others to promote volunteering, civic action and educational mentoring Pritesh Pattni, Bidgley Power Foundation

The Bidgley Power Foundation has a 38-year history of delivering sport to BME communities. A small group of Bangladeshi restaurant workers in the mid 70’s battled racial and institutional barriers to start a small Badminton club. Growing from these origins the organisation now has 15 BME sports coaches and works with over 300 participants every week in its various sports programs. Operating in super diverse areas of Birmingham with 90% BME demographics and high social deprivation.

As a charity it has taken this sporting base and used it to engage with BME people and young and disabled people to promote volunteering, civic action and educational mentoring. The charity is wholly volunteer run and led with local people as trustees to keep its focus on effective social outcomes.

Currently working with partners such as West Midlands Police, the Counter terrorism unit, Midland Heart housing Association and Aston Villa Football club with its base of 30 volunteers.

The challenge is whether cultural sensitivity in an increasingly secular society and a diminishing focus on the equalities agenda coupled with funding cuts mean that the charity is fighting a loosing battle?

 Pritesh Pattni is a Ugandan Asian refugee who has championed BME sport for 25 years. A Badminton coach and torchbearer in the 2012 Olympics. Working as a resilience officer for the council and studying for a PhD at UEL.

15.10 – 15.45 Conclusion, Networking and Finish

 Delegate Fee  £145.00 per delegate includes conference material, tea/coffee and lunch

For further information and to book your place call 01423 326 660 or email



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