“MAKING A REAL DIFFERENCE TO ETHNIC MINORITY SPORTS IN NORTHERN IRELAND”
EMSONI is the first and the leading community-driven multi-sports organisation for the development of ethnic minority sports in Northern Ireland with the aim of diversifying the face of sports. Our approach is to use the medium of sports to integrate migrants within the ethnic minority community and with the local communities in Northern Ireland. As the voice of ethnic minority sports in Northern Ireland, we echo migrants’ views on sports and wellbeing with the focus to strengthen the system with a renewed sense of optimism – moving our society from what it is towards what it could be.
EMSONI is an independent, and non-profit organisation, every pound earned by the organisation is reinvested in the work of the organisation.
We started as a campaign group in 2018, creating awareness on the importance of massive participation of migrants in sports and physical activities and the opportunities embedded in using sport as a hook to find common ground for intercultural relationships, inclusion, integration, good relations, peace building and reconciliation. But within a short space, we metamorphosed into an “umbrella” body for the advancement of ethnic minority sports in Northern Ireland. We work with different communities and groups within ethnic minority community to provide leadership – driving their sports affairs with the aim to eliminate barriers against sports participation and performance, to address sport as a means for social welfare and to reduce racial inequalities in sports. We play a significant role in trying to influence and lobby the government on better and equitable policies that represent the sports needs of all migrants in Northern Ireland.
We organise thought-provoking roundtable conversations and back it up with action plans to improve representation, citizenry, and participation based on equality and diversity.
We use sport as a tool to deliver innovative and far-reaching wellbeing and social development initiatives – as a way of improving healthy lifestyle, tackling isolation and loneliness, addressing racism and other antisocial behaviours, connecting communities and families, and sustaining relationship. Apart from organising sporting activities to create opportunities for migrants to express their interest in different sports, we also use the platforms to increase the visibility of migrants in Northern Ireland.
Our work also includes mentoring members to set up grassroots sports clubs with the strategy to increase participation and improve performance and we keep the clubs right by showing them how the system works. We provide support to members and service users who are dealing with conflict within their sport clubs or organisations by using the process of mediation to resolve the issues to prevent disintegration and to sustain better relations in sports.
We offer bespoke training and workshop solutions to create a culturally sensitive sport workplace and community that appreciate the beauty of interculturalism, social justice, human rights, equality, and diversity.
We work with suitable partners to create sporting activities and opportunities in a fun, safe, and all-inclusive environment where people can fulfil their full potential on and off the sports pitch and places vulnerable groups at the core of the lifelong learning agenda.
We develop sports programmes and promote campaigns, especially in areas and communities with low social interaction but high interest, to achieve the following strategic aims:
- To Bridge Ethnicity Gap.
- To Increase Participation and Improve Performance in Sports
- To Create Pathways through Sports for Personal Development and Capacity Building.
- To Create a New Dimension to Peacebuilding in Northern Ireland by Neutralising the Effects of the Troubles and Helping the Protestant and Catholic Communities to Find Common Ground to Work Together as a Community.
- To Improve Healthy Lifestyle.
- To Combat Racism and Hate Crime, and to Eliminate any other Social Vices.
- To Integrate New Communities with the Local Communities.
According to Nelson Mandela, “Sport can create hope where once there was only despair.” To us, sport remains a catalyst for unifying the people, powerful than government in breaking down racial barriers. The power of sport goes beyond physical exertion but also a medium to enlighten people on racial stereotypes with the aim of preventing prejudice which is often the root cause of racial discrimination.
Many migrants in Northern Ireland are not only being marginalised as a player but also under–represented in coaching and administration and we, as an organisation, are positioned to change the narrative by challenging the status quo. It is of a great value to us that we are here, as a partner in progress, to join hands with the government and the whole community to make our society a better place for all.
Our work to foster a shared society through sports was recognised by the Office of the Lord Mayor of Belfast in April 2019 with a Lord Mayor’s Certificate of Unsung Hero for Promoting Diversity in Sport.
As a centre for volunteering, we offer leadership opportunities to volunteers and delighted to see one of our volunteers – winning the prestigious BBC Sports Personality UNSUNG HERO award 2020 for Northern Ireland – because of his voluntary work with EMSONI, integrating migrants through sports.
“Strengthening Shared Sustainable Sporty Society.”
EMSONI Mission Statement
“A megaphone of a society that is sports-friendly, recreative, all-inclusive, diversified and fair to all – where people from different ethnicities can regularly participate in the same sports and physical activities without any discrimination.”