Spirit of 2012 awarded its Connecting Communities prize to Unity Gym Project at this week’s British Ethnic Diversity Sports Awards (BEDSAs).

The Spirit of 2012 Connecting Communities Award rewards an organisation, individual or project that has had a significant impact on bringing local communities in England together through sport or physical activity.

Unity Gym Project won for its work with communities in and around Broomhall in Sheffield, where training sessions are held for people aged 16–82, from a very broad range of backgrounds and ethnicities. 

The gym provides a safe space for young people in particular to train together, building positive relationships that break down the barriers that have led to some problems between young people in the area. “We’re really pleased to present our award to Unity, and also congratulate runners-up Boarders without Borders and Aik Saath,” said Debbie Lye, Chief Executive of Spirit of 2012.

“We look forward to keeping in touch with Unity over the coming year to see their work continue and grow.”

Cricketer Hamidullah Qadri reported on Spirit of 2012’s Breaking Boundaries project

Spirit Hamid

Spirit is one of the main sponsors of the BEDSAs, which recognise and celebrate sporting excellence within Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) communities.

“The BEDSAs are a highlight of our year, and we’re delighted to have sponsored them again this year,” Debbie adds. 

During the ceremony, which this year was hosted by comedian Nish Kumar, guests also heard from Derby cricketer Hamidullah Qadri about Spirit’s Breaking Boundaries project.

As its ambassador, Hamidullah was proud to report that in its first year the project has trained 139 Community Champions and partnered with more than 40 community organisations across five cities to bring together communities in a celebration of cricket.

This year’s other big winners include Raheem Sterling and Ama Agbeze, who won the City Livery Club Sportsman of the Year and Royal Navy Sportswoman of the Year respectively. 

Arun Kang CEO Sporting Equals and Founder of the BEDSAs said: “The Sporting Equals BEDSA awards never disappoint, celebrating the outstanding work of volunteers and communities as well as the achievements of world-class performers like Raheem Sterling and Ama Agbeze. 

“Sporting Equals as a national charity has ensured these awards are a key date in the sporting calendar and important in terms of not only showcasing the excellent work and talent among diverse communities, but also for highlighting that there is much work still to do to tackle inequalities and under-representation in some areas of sport.” 

The complete list of winners at the 2019 BEDSAs was as follows:

    • Youth Sport Trust Young Sportsperson of the Year – Kare Adenegan
    • The British Army Unsung Champion – Harmander Singh
    • England Athletics Coach of the Year – Haj Bhania
    • UK Sport Inspirational Performance of the Year – Ranvir Singh
    • Sport England Community Sports Project of the Year – GirlDreamer: Boarders without Borders
    • Spirit of 2012 Connecting Communities Award – Unity Gym
    • The LTA Community Project of the Year – British Muslim Heritage Centre
    • England Wales Cricket Board Special Recognition Award – National Asian Cricket Council   
    • The Royal Navy Sports Woman of the Year Award – Ama Agbeze
    • The City Livery Club Sportsman of the Year Award – Raheem Sterling
    • The FA Special Recognition Award – Kulwinder Singh Johal
    • Sporting Equals Lifetime Achievement Award – Brendon Batson OBE
    • Sky Media Leadership in Sport Award – Nigel Walker