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23 Jun 2021 110

Tackling racism in sport requires systemic change and building trust, shows research campaign

Findings from the #TellYourStory campaign, which set out to explore race and racism in sport, have been released today (23 June).

The report illustrates the ‘systemic and corrosive nature of racism in society and its impact across sporting institutions and structures throughout the UK' and how exposure to racism in sport 'diminishes well-being and impacts on identity and self-belief’.

UK Sport and the home country sports councils commissioned consultancy firm AKD Solutions to conduct the significant lived experience research project. Over 300 people from across the UK, from coaches, participants, officials, volunteers, staff, parents and peers, representing 25 sports and physical activities, contributed to the campaign by sharing their experiences of racism.

Focusing on coaching and coaches specifically, the report shows that experiences of ‘negative coaching attitudes’ affected the confidence and motivation of young Black and Asian participants, and for some elite level athletes caused them to leave their sport or clubs altogether.

For coaches from ethnically diverse communities, ‘unwelcoming environments, limited opportunities for career progression and barriers to accessing top coaching roles’ were some of the shared themes.

AKD Solutions has recommended individuals and organisations follow the 'ACE' model of leadership to address racial inequalities:

  • Allyship – ‘Create structures and networks in which people advance a culture of inclusion through intentional, positive and conscious efforts'
  • Challenge – ‘Create a culture in which people have permission to challenge and disrupt normality’
  • Experiment – ‘Create spaces in which people are curious and brave in trying new things’

UK Coaching CEO Mark Gannon, said:

Reading through this report, I am upset by the experiences of racism people have faced whilst participating in sport and physical activity. Any coach that uses stereotypes, racist tropes or negative coaching attitudes is the antithesis to what being a great coach is all about. Great coaching profoundly and positively impacts on all aspects of people’s lives and helps build healthier and happier communities.

“Our job is to develop inspiring coaches to deliver excellent experiences of sport and physical activity and also make sure every member of the coaching workforce feels represented, supported and inspired.  

“Since the murder of George Floyd and the subsequent international Black Lives Matter movement, which brought systemic racism back into sharp focus, we have reiterated our stance on racial injustice and we will continue to work with our partners to tackle racism and racial inequalities in coaching.” 

Having helped convene some of the focus groups for the #TellYourStory campaign, and comparing the findings with its own research, UK Coaching will address the profound impact racism can have on our coaches and their participants.

This year, the charitable organisation released its ethnographical research study Coach Life: Coaching For All to understand and illustrate the 'raw and unfiltered' lived experiences of coaches from ethnically diverse communities and low socio-economic backgrounds. 

The research has helped the organisation to learn from the experiences of coaches from ethnically diverse communities to offer them better support.

UK Coaching will continue to ensure it’s here for the coach through four key areas:

  1. Challenge:
  • our organisational make up and culture to ensure that we are diverse, anti-racist, and inclusive as an organisation 
  • our own practice and others and continue to explore the barriers into coaching, identifying gaps in our knowledge
  • accept advice from our diversity partners and implement changes to our modus operandi when required.
  1. Consult:
  • with coaches from ethnically diverse communities to help shape our products and services
  • with key diversity partners to make sure we can hear the voices of coaches from a wide range of communities.
  1. Represent:
  • people from ethnically diverse communities and actively promote and support them
  • positive action and co-create coaching programmes by working with the communities we are engaging with.
  1. Promote and support
  • the value of a diverse and inclusive workforce across the whole of the sector – by sharing our insight and research
  • the current workforce, from grassroots to elite, to be more diverse and inclusive in their practice and thinking
  • learning solutions to assist coaches to be great, including our Equality in Sport and Physical Activity eLearning course, our unconscious bias training and our continued work in upholding the recommendations made in the Duty of Care in Sport review.

To read more about the Tackling Racism and Racial Inequality in Sport review, the full reports and the Sports Councils' overarching commitments head to uksport.gov.uk.

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