A born and bred Londoner with a career history steeped in community work within diverse communities in London. As a kid I used to sneak into the tennis courts at my local park and back then in the 80s, the park warden used to charge 50p per hour which meant we’d play as many points as possible while the warden strolled our way, and then ran off before he could charge us. I grew up playing Table Tennis with my uncle who was regional youth TT champion in Warwickshire.
Another uncle of mine was scouted for a Premier League team (Division 1 back then) but, my grandfather said, “No son of mine is gonna scrub football boots” Both my uncles accumulated many trophies and awards and played a huge role in my love of sport. Perfect role models.
As a young athlete I used to cycle 100 miles pw, play 5 a-side 3-4 nights a week, Tennis, Ping Pong, Cricket, Pool, Basketball & Badminton at any opportunity. I played against some EPIC sporting talent from BAME communities and always wondered why they never pursued professional athletic careers. My experience of accessing elite sport had been negative ie, there was very little community outreach from the sports industry.
In recent years as a youth worker, I used sport as a crime prevention strategy which was by far the best method of changing young lives. If there was no desire to play sports then the opportunity to work in the sports industry was just as exciting for young people.
As a youth worker I’ve had concerns as a mentor for young people and sporting father too. I questioned the sports industry’s accessibility for black and ethnic minority & under privileged communities. How could I encourage young budding athletes to pursue a career in sport knowing that prejudice & a lack of opportunities was there waiting to slam the door shut. This was further compounded when young Black & Asian footballers shared their experiences of playing at Championship & Premier League football academies. They alleged that coaches were not giving them effective feedback and felt their development needs were being neglected.
As a community volunteer & sports fan I see WalkOff as a social responsibilty.
Actions speak louder.....one of my fav youth working sound bites.
Encouraging more #DiversityInSport