Adekanmi Abayomi is the winner of BBC Sports Personality of The Year Unsung Hero Award 2020 for Northern Ireland and finalist for the overall Unsung Hero Award.
The award was presented to Adekanmi Abayomi by BBC Sport NI reporter Nicola McCarthy on behalf of The British Broadcasting Corporation.
Adekanmi founded EMSONI (Ethnic Minority Sports Organisation Northern Ireland) in 2018 to encourage people from ethnic minority groups and communities to participate in sport.
As a volunteer, he works across Belfast and throughout Northern Ireland encouraging and promoting the importance of sport at a grassroots level, inspiring others to take part and help reduce racial inequality in sport.
On top of his volunteer work, Adekanmi is also a certified football and handball coach and referee. He teaches walking football twice a week as well as refereeing it and helped set up the Walking Football Federation in Northern Ireland which now boasts of two teams from ethnic minority backgrounds.
One of the most successful initiatives set up by Adekanmi was last year’s Northern Ireland Confederations Cup – a football tournament that brought together teams from 12 communities across Northern Ireland. Intended to be an annual tournament, the competition included teams from Asian, Algerian, Polish, Timorese, Somali, Ghanaian, Zimbabwean, North African, Blackstaff, International, Suffolk and Sudanese Community.
Northern Ireland Confederation Cup is an initiative of EMSONI designed” to create an all-inclusive platform for diverse communities to participate not only in an inter-cultural football activity to increase participation and integrate diverse people, but to also help to break both cultural and social barriers, bridging ethnicity gap, tackling isolation and promoting social inclusion.”
Adekanmi said: “The attitude of helping society has always been part of me.
“My purpose here in Northern Ireland through sport is to help my community to break barriers to sport participation and to see how we can address racial inequalities in sport.
“It is important that we use sport in moving society forward. Sport has a lot to do in terms of changing society for better.
“I’m short of words. I really did not expect this award. It came as a shock to me, so I am really excited and happy about it. This will be in my memory for a long time.”
Away from the sporting arena, Adekanmi champions the needs and importance of attracting minority and ethnic communities to sport, organising the first Ethnic Minority Sports Leadership Summit in 2019. He was appointed to the board of the Northern Ireland Sport and Human Rights Forum in 2019.