Sandwell Leisure Trust (SLT) CEO, Ash Rai, has been recognised for his commitment to increasing diversity, equality and Black Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) representation across UK sports governance….
Ash, age 53 and born and bred in Smethwick, is one of just 15 BAME professionals nationwide to have graduated onto the 2019 ‘LeaderBoard Academy’, which specifically sets out to provide the skills needed to influence boardrooms of sports and physical activity organisations and increase BAME participation in sport at all levels.
The Academy is the brainchild of Birmingham-based disadvantaged communities champion Sporting Equals, in partnership with Leicester University and also endorsed by their unit for Diversity, Inclusion & Community Engagement. It seeks to create a pool of talent that is ‘board ready’ and prepared to step into top positions across the UK sports structure.
A delighted Ash says: “Just to be one of the select few chosen nationally is an honour and I really enjoyed meeting up and networking with dedicated and high profile BAME professionals who also want to support the LeaderBoard Academy and help change the face of British Sport and make a tangible difference.
“I particularly enjoyed the intensive three day programme and the written assessment, which was marked by the University – and the graduation culminated in a glittering ceremony in London at the prestigious British Ethnic Minority Diversity Sports Awards. The likes of former world and Olympic 400m champion Christine Ohuruogu MBE have backed the LeaderBoard Academy and said it’s a great concept that could spark real change.”
Arun Kang, CEO of Sporting Equals and Founder of The LeaderBoard Academy, says: “Decisions about BAME and other equality groups are often made by elite groups that do not reflect inclusion – and the result is a lack of diversity at all levels in sport. Consequently, we are focused on getting talented and passionate BAME professionals onto boards; people who have empathy and understanding of equality issues and the ability to communicate and share that at board decision making level.
“This will make sports governance much more representative of the people who play and watch sport in this country – and indeed our last cohort of the LeaderBoard Academy included top CEOs, barristers, accountants, plus professional sports coaches. All of them are equipped to make a difference on national boards – given the opportunity. “
Ash Rai has over30 years experience in the leisure industry and is a Fellow of the Chartered Institute for the Management of Sport & Physical Activity (CIMSPA). He’s also a Board Member at Active Black Country and a Justice at Black Country Magistrates Courts, plus he volunteers to run a large junior and youth football club in Sandwell.
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