Last week the Black in Sport team held a sell-out event at the London Stadium, Stewart Luunga and Faith Olu BCOMS North attended the event.
” The event was hosted by Sky Sports News presenter, Mike Wedderburn and freelance presenter and BCOMS alumnus, Anita Abayomi.
Following months of planning and strategising, the team brought together a line-up of vibrant speakers, which included Leon Mann, Anton Ferdinand, Lewis Hamilton, Carina White and many others. The event provided a perfect platform for the speakers to share their experiences and insights, and this was fulfilled as they all talked about the challenges they faced in their careers, the barriers they had to overcome, and the lessons they learned along the way. They also highlighted the importance of diversity and inclusion in sports and how it can benefit the industry going forward.
Carina White during the empowering black women session. Image credit: Aleida Hammond (Aleida Studio)
In line with this, BCOMS founder Leon Mann passionately talked about the need to be deliberate in pushing for change in the sports industry. He emphasised that for diversity and inclusion to be achieved, there is need for leadership in the main sectors of the sports field. He added that there is need to ensure that whoever is involved in the leadership positions is accountable for their decisions.
‘Broadcasters fund football. What are the broadcasters saying to football about their lack of diversity. We’ve got the adverts; we got the partnerships. But really, this needs leadership. And if you leverage your commercial leadership here. Then, things will begin to change.’
Prior to this, Anton Ferdinand shared an experience of verbal racial abuse from teammates when he played. The former Queen’s Park Rangers defender expressed how this was one of the most challenging phases of his career because of the public uproar from rival fans. ‘The ripple effect of how it affected me, and my family became a real struggle,’ he recalled.
Leon Mann addressing the audience. Image Credit: Ernest Simmons
There was also a discussion on empowering women in the industry led by Broadcaster, Cultural commentator and BCOMS board member, Carina White who shared experiences where she had been subjected to sexism based on what she wore at a football game. Carina underscored how most females go through such without much support and called upon men to join the affected women in ensuring that these problems are not occurring.
The event also included the employer challenge which gave attendees a chance to secure internships with a variety of organisations such as Sky, Kukri Sport, BCOMS and VERSUS. Last year, participants were only allowed to answer the challenge questions through writing, but this year, some were allowed to orally present their thoughts to the employees. One of the attendees that presented in the latter way, Rebecca Williams expressed that she was more comfortable talking to the employers in an interview like set up than writing. ‘I believe physically delivering allows the audience to not only hear the points but see the passion through my body language and tone of voice,’ she said.
Over 250 people were in attendance. Suffice it to say the vision of Black in Sport was once again put into action as black sports professionals were celebrated and more opportunities were created for people from all backgrounds both on and off the field. The day was wrapped up with a vote of thanks reiterating how grateful the team is to the sponsors; Sky and Loughborough University, all the speakers, supporters and attendees for making it a successful event.