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Tackling discrimination in sport
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During a time of political uncertainty where social exclusion is in the daily news bulletins, how can sport break through barriers of discrimination?

Delegates met in London to discuss methods and motivations in tackling discrimination in sport. Individuals from NGO’s, governing bodies and other sport organisations attended. Presentations focused on key themes in discrimination – gender, sexuality, disability and ethnicity. Ensuing discussions were were informative and wide ranging.

There is a sense that many in the sport sector continue to focus on the ‘problems’. At executive level, in the UK at least, there is a lack of diversity. The phrase ‘pale, male and stale’ is often regurgitated when talking about governing bodies. Sport needs to adapt to the changing world in which we live, and diversity at the top would be a step in the right direction. Those within the sport for development community can lead the conversation on solutions. Sport in the UK needs to stop lingering on the past and look to a more diverse and inclusive future.

Diversity at executive level can create more role models for young people. There is also a need to work at creating opportunities for minority groups at grassroots level. If you want to take part there should be an opportunity to do so! Change at executive level will only come as a result of greater opportunities for individuals to grow and develop within sport. Organisations like International Mixed Ability Sports, Sporting Equals and Pride Sports are working hard to increase participation and represent the most marginalised groups. These, and other, organisation are now moving toward a position where they can influence key decision makers at policy level.

Sarah Milner of sports coach UK summed up the direction that sport in the UK must head in:

Fix the system, not the people.

The session closed with agreement that there is a capable and motivated community in the UK working for change. Yet there was a lack of discussion on socioeconomic discrimination. This form of marginalisation affects all genders, abilities/disabilities, ethnicities and sexualities. The postcode in which you live should not be a barrier to participation. Young people from deprived areas need a voice and they need to be better represented.

Fundamentally, policymakers need to recognise that sport-for-all should encompass everyone.

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