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Beyond Sport Blog by Teshani Nanyakkara


BCOMS mentees, Mayowa Quadri and Teshani Nanayakkara attended the inaugural Beyond Sport conference on Tuesday, 25th June at Tottenham Hotspur’s new stadium.

Teshani gave us an insight in to her take aways from the tday’s activities please read them below:

The newly built Tottenham Hotspur Stadium set the backdrop for the inaugural Beyond Sport UK 2019 conference.

Immy Kaur, Co-Founder and Director of Impact Hub Birmingham kicked-off the conversation with a presentation which outlined some of the UK’s most pressing issues. Although the presentation left a glum feeling, CEO of Sport England, Tim Hollingsworth reassured the audience that the challenges could be resolved by collaborating with each other and employing sport as a means for social change.

One of the most thrilling panels of the day was a segment on the cutting-edge ways sport is being used to positively impact society. Leading the segment was, Suhaiymah Manzoor-Khan, project manager of Maslaha, who spoke about an exciting initiative in collaboration with British Fencing called ‘Muslim Girls Fence’. In a community which has some of the lowest participation rates in sport, I thought the MGF initiative was a unique method to get individuals from an unrepresented group into a sport which is commonly perceived as white-dominated.

Other thought-provoking panels of the day included a segment on the use of technology, STEM and sport to deliver educational programmes across schools, while a panel of leading businesses, such as Unilever, Bloomberg and SAP Next-Gen led the discussion regarding the role of businesses in leading the movement for social change, with sustainability being a focal point in the conversation.

The afternoon took a different turn as we were split into two groups to take part in roundtable workshops – issues and approaches. Some issues included Tackling the Root Causes of Serious Youth Violence, Promoting and Enabling Mental Health and Wellbeing and Improving Access to and Quality of Stem Education. 

I sat on the ‘Immigrant and Migrant Cohesion’ table led by Plymouth Hope where we discussed root causes of migration, barriers that refugees may face and refugee statistics and terminology. One of the key facts I took away from the discussion was that the UK hosts less than 3% of refugees worldwide, with refugees receiving up to £37 a week – leaving no money for sporting activity. For the approaches workshop, I sat on the ‘Creating Impactful Volunteering Programmes’ led by Sport England where we discussed utilising volunteering programmes in corporate businesses. 

The conference concluded on a positive note with a segment on the next generation of sport. Representation remained a focal point in the conversation, with England and UK Wheelchair Rugby Player, Freya Levy, expressing her excitement at representing her country, while five-time National Climbing champion, Molly Thompson-Smith (who I interviewed earlier that day) conveyed the importance of being a role model in a sport where BAME individuals are disenfranchised. Street Child United Young Leader, Jasmin Akter wrapped-up the conversation by expressing the importance of sport for social change having competed in the Street Child Cricket World Cup earlier this year, and left an impactful closing statement by speaking of her pride in representing South Asian women in sport, despite cultural barriers.  

The Beyond Sport UK 2019 conference was a great success! The day opened up much needed important conversations to challenge delegates in tackling issues through the use of sport. 

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