The awards, which are organised by Sporting Equals, celebrate diversity in sport by recognising individual achievements and encouraging young people from Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) communities to continue their sporting prowess into later life.
On 18 March, host Lenny Henry and hundreds of British sports stars will pour into London’s Hilton Park Lane Hotel to celebrate these achievements. Amongst those attending will be our three young rising stars nominated for the Youth Sport Trust Young Sportsperson of the Year Award, to be presented by YST Ambassador and President of UK Athletics Jason Gardener MBE.
Cricketer Haseeb Hameed, kick boxer Harleen Kaur and para swimmer Alice Tai will take their place on the awards shortlist, which covers 11 categories, alongside sporting legends including Sir Mo Farah and Dame Jessica Ennis-Hill.
I caught up with all three of them ahead of the awards, starting with Harleen, at one of our recent events, Future Sport Leaders, which supports people from BAME communities to pursue leadership roles. The 18-year-old kick boxer from Bradford became the WMKF World Champion Silver Medallist last year.
Harleen said: “This nomination means a lot to me as it’s so important to promote diversity in sport. People from different ethnic backgrounds need role models in order to inspire them to pursue such paths for themselves. The BEDSA awards give people someone to want to follow in the footsteps of and I would love to offer that level of encouragement to others.”
Before setting off to Sri Lanka with the England Lions, Haseeb, England’s youngest opening batsman, reflected on his momentous year.
"I do feel genuinely honoured to receive this nomination, and to be in contention for such a prestigious award. It's been a really memorable year for me, and to receive this sort of recognition is great for all the people who have helped me, especially my family and friends, and the coaches and team-mates at Lancashire and with England.
“I'm still in the very early stages of my career and everything has happened very quickly. It was frustrating to get injured when I was in India with England before Christmas, but hopefully going to Sri Lanka is the first step to getting back and having another good season in 2017.”
Para swimmer Alice Tai has represented Great Britain at both European and World Championships and has won medals in both individual and team events.
She said: “It was amazing to find out I have been nominated – it’s absolutely brilliant that the BEDSAs are promoting diversity in sport and I am really pleased to be part of that. It would be an absolute honour to receive the award and I think that I could then give me a bigger platform to go and help other people from different ethnicities to go and try sports in their local areas.”
With our support of the BEDSAs and our Future Sport Leaders project with Sporting Equals, we’re hoping to address current inequalities in sport and in particular showcase the amazing role young people can and do play in driving positive change.
Roll on the red carpet and good luck to Haseeb, Harleen and Alice.