This year taught me… that the work we do is making a difference. I had to think carefully about this as I wanted to ensure it is taken in the right context. It is not written from a sense of pride or arrogance but from humility.
At the beginning of the year, we embarked on a company defining project, #TellYourStory. We were commissioned by UK Sport, Sport England, Sport Wales, Sport Northern and Sport Scotland to research Race and Racism in Sport. It was a deeply personal piece of work for all involved. The team were all passionate about sport and had all experienced racism in different guises. We were upfront with the councils that it was more than a piece of research and they gave us permission to be ourselves and deliver this project in an authentic way.
We had the belief that we were the right people
This year taught me, just do it. On paper, we had fewer credentials and experience than our competitors. But there was a belief that was energetic and contagious, some in the team would say “hubris”!! But we had a belief that we were the right people to do it. So don’t doubt yourself. Leave that to others!
325 people, from 38 sports across the UK participated. The participants were comprised of professionals and grassroots participants including; coaches, officials, parents and volunteers. Despite concerns and some hesitancy, they trusted us to share their stories and lived experiences.
If you as a leader have no impact then you are taking up space
The quality of leadership on the project shown by Heather and Ladi was phenomenal. They were driven by purpose. If leadership has no impact then they are taking up space. But impact must be driven by purpose. I witnessed this in the whole team. They gave a voice to many people who had been silenced for years and some even decades. The process was traumatic for many who took part both participants and the team, but they pushed on.
The team worked around the clock: interviewing, analysing, debating, editing and proofreading. They worked innumerable hours despite challenging personal circumstances. Why? We all understood how important this work was not just to the Sports Council and those who had taken part but to potentially thousands of current and future participants of sport.
#TellYourStory is a powerful report, that captures people’s stories as well as their lived experience and then helps to shape the way forward. It has been amazing to experience such a positive response to the project. The creation of the ACE model of leadership is a watershed moment and to see different sporting bodies engaging with the model and working with us on how to use it to advance diversity and equality in their organisation is transformational.
Be unapologetic about being who you are
This year has taught me to be unapologetic about being who we are and recognising that we have so much to offer the world. I didn’t learn but I was reminded that I have a brilliant team whose energy and commitment is hard to rival. This year has taught me that despite ups and downs, keep dreams alive because they do come true!
Read #TellYourStory research here
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