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EMSONI, the Ethnic Minority Sports Organisation Northern Ireland, has hosted a successful Sports Leadership Summit in Belfast.

At House of Sport, Belfast they brought together people from the worlds of sport, local communities, and ethnic minority groups to discuss how to improve sport participation among people of ethnic minorities living here.

The Deputy Lord Mayor of Belfast, Councillor Peter McReynolds launched the summit on behalf of the Belfast City Council.

Keith Gibson, Football for All Manager at the Irish Football Association Foundation, was the keynote speaker and did absolute justice to the topic of the day: ‘Northern Ireland Rising: A Path to Diversity in Sports.’

Other speakers included Dr David Russell, Chief Executive of the NI Human Rights Commission, and Bernie Rooney, Director of the Social Inclusion Policy Division and Department for Communities’ Racial Equality Champion.

Adekanmi Abayomi, founder and chair of EMSONI, said: “We believe as an organisation that ethnic minorities’ participation in sport will not only add value to the face of sports in Northern Ireland but also amplify the beauty of our diversity and quality, and a journey to secure a better tomorrow for our society through sports, opening the door to a more inclusive society.

“The beauty of diversity is to include the migrants actively in sports beyond using them to fill the gap. Our submission on increasing sport participation among ethnic minorities is intended to encourage self-organisation of our sporting activities, paving the way into an organised and sustainable sport culture, as well as opening facilities and clubs for immigrants.”

The event was facilitated by Bryson Intercultural’s DARE to Lead Change along with TIDES who are funded by EU’s Peace IV programme managed by SEUPB and supported by Belfast City Council and Sports NI.

This is the first time such an event has taken place on this scale with the aim of provoking conversations on topical issues that concern sport development and participation in our communities, exploring new ways of using sports to promote social inclusion, diversity, and integration of people.

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