From a group of Asian lads in a garage to 35 nationalities being active together

This is the title of one of the presentations at the conference Getting more people from black and minority ethnic communities into sport and physical activity which takes place on 27th March 2014 at the Signing Tree Conference Centre in Birmingham.

Organised in partnership between Sporting Equals and Sports Marketing Network this is a  conference teaching new ways of engaging and retaining participants in sport and physical activity from BME communities.

This presentation is delivered by Imran Atcha of 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.

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.

Further details can be found on

You can also call 01423 326 660 or email 

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