12 June 2020

‘Black people are not irrelevant’ says UK's only black major sports board member as she calls for more BAME representation

Anne Wafula Strike has called the lack of black representation on the boards of major UK sports ’appalling’ and ’shocking’ and called for rapid change throughout the organisations.

The British wheelchair racer, who represents UK Athletics, is the only black board member across 12 major sports in the UK and believes a change at the top is needed to filter down to all levels.

In an interview with BBC Sport she encouraged boards to ’lead by example,’ saying: “We need to have people who can be good mentors in our life, that the young black people when they are growing up can look up to and aspire to be like.”

The 51-year-old Paralympic medallist is worried that the poor representation influences how black and other ethnic minority (BAME) people see themselves.

"When you don't see anybody who's representing you or somebody of your version, you sort of start to ask yourselves 'are we so irrelevant?'

"Black people are not irrelevant," she urged.

She pointed out 2019 research by Sport England and UK Sport which found that BAME people only accounted for 5.2% of board members across 130 sport organisations in the UK.

“How I am the only black board member currently serving in sport?" she said.

"I find this shocking. It’s unacceptable in this day and age that black people have to look at the current sporting boards and not see versions of themselves.

"It just goes to show that the leadership isn't doing what they are supposed to do. Or is the leadership biased?

"We need to start asking ourselves those questions. And if the leadership is biased, then what does that tell us about our community?"

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