Black History Month: Our Sporting Heroes

Posted: Tue, 26 Oct 2021 08:46

Black History Month: Our Sporting Heroes

A part of #BlackHistoryMonth the team & trustees have been exploring our sporting heroes and why they were/are so influential for us;

Curtly Ambrose and Courtney Walsh (Cricket) – Halima Khan, Trustee @ North Yorkshire Sport

For me, it has to be the great duo that was Curtly Ambrose and Courtney Walsh. I remember watching these two on terrestrial TV with absolute amazement of how they bowl together. Many would agree, they were a formidable pair and you wouldn't want to be on the facing end of either of them. More so for me was how respected they were in the industry. Now I'm not sure many say they get to meet their childhood hero's; however, my moment of glory came in 2016 when I was pitch side with Curtly Ambrose at the T20 world cup final in India. That's a moment I won't forget and had to take a picture, yes, I look tiny… he is so tall in real life. 😊

From a modern-day era, I also wanted to point out the work Lewis Hamilton is doing in sport. He has always had divided opinion when it comes to his game. However, I think we can all agree, he has used his platform, put his words into action and is paving the way when it comes to tackling racial inequality in sport. Not only that, but he's also working with his team and governing body to recognise the challenges from within the system and create fairer opportunities. I've also got a picture with him at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, but that will just be showing off now, so I wont share that :)

Black History Month is a great time to celebrate the achievements of our Black communities as well as highlight the inequalities which have been faced.

For me it's also an opportunity to work on my own knowledge and understanding of how to be a positive ally and also celebrate the progress which has been made. I am also working on what more can I do in my position of privilege in order to tackle racial inequities in sport.

What am I trying to avoid – striking the right balance between raising awareness, increasing my own knowledge against not been seen as tokenistic. Am I winning at this, NOT AT ALL, but it's a journey I am on and learning too.

……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………

Linford Christie OBE (Athletics – Sprinter) – Damien Smith, Head of Development:

Without any hesitation, my childhood hero was (still is) Linford Christie. I vividly remember seeing him compete in the Seoul '88 Olympics and winning Silver in the 100m finals. I was a 7 year old who was mad about sport (football at that stage) but who also liked racing other kids in the playground and more often than not winning. I watched Linford win the silver in Seoul while I was on holiday n Blackpool with my dad and brother. I was so inspired by his performance as a British sprinter, by how hard he worked and trained and by his attitude to competing that it helped me badger my parents to get me involved in athletics locally. Fast forward 4 years to 1992 and I was 11 years old and regularly training with Leeds Athletics Club as a sprinter. I watched Linford win Gold at the Barcelona Olympics while at home with my parents and brothers. The fastest man in the world and he was British! A year later he won BBC Sports Personality of the Year… both of these only served to further cement him as my childhood hero and I looked up to him so much.

Black History Month is a time to reflect on the positive role he played on me growing up. He helped inspire me to take part in sport, to compete, to train and play to the best of my abilities and to push and challenge myself in all aspects of my life. My love of being active as a child has shaped my career and led to me completing a PE Degree at Leeds Becket University (Leeds Met at the time) and working in sport & physical activity for the last 20+ years. Black History Month is also helping me better understand the role of black athletes in our sporting history and the change that has happened because of their achievements, courage, and dedication. Professionally learning about Black History Month is helping me to understand inequalities that still exist to be a better ally and to work harder to ensure we are positively moving forward with our Equality, Diversity & Inclusion work.

…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………….

Lucas Radebe (Football) - Gavin Phillis, Children & Families Manager:

Growing up and being a Leeds United fan in the 90's there were several players that I looked up to, Rod Wallace, Chris Fairclough, Tony Yeboah… but the one that really stood out for me was Lucas Radebe, a leader, role model, he always carried himself with such dignity and was someone I loved to watch and listen to on and off the pitch.

…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………….

Tony Yeboah (Football) – Ryan Ellis, Education Manager:

As another Leeds fan amongst the NYS ranks, my childhood memories consisted of playing, watching or reading about football.

Jumpers for goalposts and a tennis ball made up our version of Wembley at school and whenever somebody scored a volley, there was only one name that we heard accompanying it, "Yeboah!!!"

As most children who play football do, all I wanted to do was score goals and Tony Yeboah, in my eyes, was simply incredible. Speed, power, both feet and goal of the month contenders every single week!

He took my enjoyment of the beautiful game to the next level and I have no doubt that he inspired countless other young boys and girls of my age in Leeds too.

……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………….

Daly Thomson (Athletics - Decathlete) – Garth de Roux, People Development Manager:

One of the standout sporting memories I have from being a child is of Daly Thomson winning decathlon gold at the Los Angeles Olympics. I was in total awe of how someone could excel at 10 different events over 2 days. I'm not sure how I grasped this aged 8, but I did. I have been fascinated by incredible feats of strength and endurance ever since.

…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………….

Tags: BlackHistoryMonth