Racial discrimination holding back coaches
The study, led by Dr Leanne Norman from Leeds Met's Institute of Sport, Physical Activity and Leisure, alongside Professor Anne Flintoff, Professor Kevin Hylton, Julian North and Alexandra Rankin, set out to explore the experiences of current BME participants across different sports, ages, genders and geographical regions, to understand topics such as their playing experience, their thoughts on coaching as a means to continue their involvement in sport, and whether there is a relationship between the two.
The research focused on four sports which demonstrated high levels of BME participation: athletics, badminton, cricket and basketball. In-depth interviews were conducted with one representative from each of the national governing bodies (NGBs) for these sports: British Athletics; Badminton England; England Basketball; and the England and Wales Cricket Board; discussing how each organisation frames issues concerning race and ethnicity with their coaching workforce, and how they approached their racial equalities policy.
Additionally, four participants per sport were interviewed, including different ethnicities and genders, current athletes, current coaches, and former players who are now coaches.
The interviews revealed that there needs to be a greater understanding of the different challenges for different BME groups, as opposed to grouping BME populations as one, so that a more diverse coaching workforce can be established.
Equally, there is an urgent need for a greater understanding of the complex and specific challenges for BME women, who experience a 'double-edged sword' when dealing with issues of both race and ethnicity and gender.
Dr Norman commented: "A shared conclusion across the interviews with the governing body representatives is that the recruitment and retention of a more diverse coaching workforce is either non-existent or very low on their long-term agendas. The under-representation of BME women coaches was also the least understood issue by the sporting organisations, with only one NGB demonstrating some understanding of the complexity of the issues. More action is required to target, attract, recruit and retain BME women coaches.
"The commissioning of this research by sports coach UK illustrates an important commitment to developing and enabling a more positive contribution from all members of the sporting community. However, we do recognise the context in which many sporting NGBs operate and the impact of this on the agendas, drives and initiatives of organisations. The restrictive financial climate in which NGBs work means that budgets are tight and this can often account for the absence of action towards improving diversity and equality."
The BME athletes interviewed noted that they felt put-off participating in sport due to three main factors: costs, lack of diversity in the sporting context, and everyday racism and sexism. Similarly, when considering making the transition into coaching, participants would feel encouraged by the following: more diverse playing environments, specific BME-targeted initiatives, mentors, and coach-development programmes.