Ensuring anyone and everyone can be involved in sport and fitness has never been more prominent, and so we chatted to Cai Lyons, Equality and Diversity Student Ambassador and Wom*n’s Caption of UoB Cycling Club, about what sport for all really means, and what we can do to ensure we are inclusive across the board.
These are words that you’ve probably heard quite a bit over the last few years. Many sports organisations are engaging with widening participation and increasing access to sports activities across the UK. For example, Sport England actively seeks to ensure that their staff reflects the communities they work with and they have commissioned reports on sport and sexuality, sport and disability, and sport and ethnicity. They are also currently working to form something similar with transgender inclusion.
Other organisations have engaged in similar actions and are committed to improving access, equality, and diversity in sport. These include:
Last year, UoB Sport & Fitness launched the Pride Award, to acknowledge and celebrate the diversity and inclusion of sport within our clubs, groups and facilities.
There are lots of resources available online and if this is something you want to include in your club development for next semester, you can read through the links provided throughout and listed below. These resources might also help you works towards nominating your club for the Pride Award 2020!
Equality is about ensuring that everyone has equal access and opportunity. It means ensuring that no one is treated differently or discriminated against (directly or indirectly), because of their characteristics and differences.
Diversity means considering the differences within the student body and placing a positive value on these differences. It is about celebrating and valuing how different we all are, recognising and valuing our different backgrounds, knowledge, skills, and experiences. Diversity is something that applies to all of us; none of us will fit neatly into a single characteristic as our identities are complex, and something that cannot be clearly labelled or discriminated against.
There are nine protected characteristics, as defined by the anti-discrimination law, The Equality Act (2010). These characteristics include:
The characteristics listed above can impact a student’s access to sports and sport participation. An all-white committee might feel alienating for a person of colour; an all-male performance team might discourage women from competing; a club that seems completely heterosexual and cisgender might intimidate LGBTQ+ students; lack of access might prevent students with impairments from participating. Other circumstances can mean that students are unintentionally excluded: expensive kit and travel expenses excludes students from lower socioeconomic backgrounds; social events based on alcohol exclude those who do not or cannot drink.
This is where inclusion becomes important. We can promote equality and diversity by creating an inclusive culture within UoB Sport & Fitness, enabling students to reach their full potential, by holding ourselves accountable.
Reaching out and doing a little bit more can make a massive difference. Include pronouns on the committee introduction posts on social media, or openly acknowledge who might be missing from your club. Organise social events that don’t focus exclusively on alcohol. Engage with people who have different experiences than you or work with other societies with different backgrounds to arrange joint-taster events. These are just a few activities that can be part of your club development and your nomination for the Pride Award 2020.
The barriers that prevent access and participation in sport go beyond the track, field, pool, pitch and court. Have a read of UoB’s Equality Scheme 2016-2020, look at the policies and procedures that impact students, or contact one of the Equality and Diversity Student Ambassadors, like me!
In the end, all students should feel welcomed and valued – not just in UoB Sport & Fitness but all across campus.