Student-led Black in Sport Summit hosted on Loughborough campus

The inaugural Black in Sport Summit (BISS) took place on the Loughborough campus on 26 March – with the aim of inspiring students from all backgrounds to strive for excellence.

Students from the University’s Afro-Caribbean Society worked in collaboration with University staff and with alumnus, University Council member and Sky Sports News Presenter Mike Wedderburn (MSc Sports Science 1989) to bring the event together.

Athletes and high-profile professionals from the sports industry were welcomed to speak at sessions throughout the day which focused on themes including breaking into the industry as a minority, changing the narrative, and overcoming barriers.

Co-founded by current Business Analytics student Samuel Ola and Accounting and Financial Management student Emmanuel Shittu, the pair explained the importance of the Black in Sport Summit, and the reasons behind launching the event. Samuel said:

“We started this to celebrate the achievements of Black people in sport and also to learn from the stories of our amazing speakers. We’re also trying to create opportunities for minorities to break into the sport industry.”

During the day-long event, attendees had the opportunity to hear from alumna and Commonwealth Gold medallist, netballer Ama Agbeze MBE (MSc Finance and Management 2007). She discussed changing the narrative with BISS co-host Mayowa Quadri, Brand and Editorial Officer for VERSUS.

A panel was formed to discuss breaking into the sports industry as a minority, including alumna Simbi Sonuga, Senior Manager, Strategic Operations at Octagon, who discussed imposter syndrome and reflecting on achieving successes.

Current Loughborough student and Paralympic T38 100m Champion Thomas Young teamed up with fellow Paralympian Karé Adenegan, who won two silver medals in Tokyo. They discussed balancing their sporting commitments with studies and day-to-day life and being role models to other young people. Karé said:

“When I started wheelchair racing, I didn’t see anyone who looked like me. I’m proud when people say I’m a role model.”

Other speakers included Darren Lewis, Sports Football Writer and Assistant Editor at the Daily Mirror, and Sky Andrew, the first Black British football agent. They were in discussion with Mike about overcoming barriers and in particular discussed racial bias in commentary and the importance of educating others. Sky Andrew commented:

“History shows that if the Williams sisters can become great tennis players, other black tennis players follow. Barack Obama – other politicians will follow. I understand that some people will say that it’s not the job of certain people to have that responsibility, and to be fair a lot of well-known sportspeople don’t like to have that responsibility.”

Anthony Watson, England Rugby star, discussed his experiences via a live video link, and pre-recorded interviews were shared by Ebony-Jewel Rainford-Brent MBE, Chris Hughton, and Brendan Batson.

Students were also given the fantastic opportunity to meet with employers during the day and to undertake a challenge that gave them the chance to be considered for internships at Sky Sports and Kukri. Other employers supporting the event included Catapult, PING Golf, BCOMS, DAZN group and VERSUS.

On the launch of the event, Professor Nick Jennings, Vice-Chancellor and President of Loughborough University, said:

“The Black in Sport Summit is a fantastic student-led initiative. By providing a platform to champion the achievements of Black people in sport, we hope to change the narrative and inspire the next generation of sport leaders.”

Thank you to everyone who took part in the day, and especially to the speakers who volunteered their time to share their experiences. A video round-up of the day will be available soon. Find out more about BISS via the website.

If you are interested in taking part in future BISS events, please get in touch.