TOTTENHAM Hotspur and England defender Eric Dier has today been announced as an ambassador for Sported, the UK’s largest network of community groups supporting 500,000 young people to reach their full potential.
Eric’s focus, determination and talent make him an ideal role model for young people across the UK. He understands that being involved with a local community group is about so much more than sport – it is about helping young people build self-esteem, develop healthy relationships with their families and peers and feel a sense of self-worth. As an ambassador, Eric will support and promote Sported’s work in a private as well as public capacity.
This announcement comes as Sported announces its selection as one of the three charities for the Times and Sunday Times 2020 Christmas Appeal. Sported believes that being part of the appeal will help mobilise public support for community sports groups up and down the country who use sport to create change. The focus will be on harnessing the community spirit fostered through the pandemic to boost local volunteering and generate the funds needed to help communities respond to the impact of Covid-19 and sustainably rebuild.
Sported’s network consists of 2,600 community sports groups across the UK representing 100 different sports, from parkour to paddle-boarding, boxing to baseball and kabaddi to kayaking. These groups tackle the most serious social issues affecting communities including youth violence, discrimination and poverty. Sported helps empower the local heroes running these groups by providing much needed professional expertise, resources and operational support, free of charge, to help their group survive and thrive.
One of the groups Sported works with is HR Sports Academy, which Eric recently visited. HR Sports Academy delivers quality sports sessions, sports education, and community development programmes to schools and disadvantaged communities in London. It was set up by Mickela Ramsay-Hall, who is passionate about using sport as a catalyst for positive youth development and success. The sudden death of her sister, the rise in youth gun and knife crime and cuts to youth services motivated Mickela to reduce conflict in and around Haringey and help young people realise their potential.
Sported has been working with HR Sports Academy to help this community group grow and develop sustainably and reach even more young people. This support, which is helping reinforce the Academy’s long-term future and significant impact on the local community, comes in the form of advice and guidance on topics such as governance, resourcing, fundraising and funding applications. HR Sports Academy also participated in a Sported programme to provide training to community groups on the use of sport and physical activity as a means of reducing youth violence.
During his visit, Eric met with coaches, young leaders and young people who regularly benefit from HR Academy’s support and heard first-hand about the impact that it is having on their life. One of these young people was Suraya, who has experienced many challenges in her life. She has been to three different schools, been home-schooled and ran away from home more than once. Her involvement as a participant at HR Sports Academy has been life-changing. The provisions have helped her to be surrounded by positive role models, kept her off the streets and engaged in productive activities. She has gained many skills and certificates volunteering as a young leader. The past year she has absolutely thrived.
Suraya said: “Being involved with HR Sports Academy has made a huge difference to my life. It’s not only helped me become more focused at school, but I’ve also developed so many new skills that I know will help me in the future. I know I’ll continue to face challenges life, but thanks to what I’ve learnt at HR Academy and the support I’m getting from them, I feel like I can overcome anything!”
Eric Dier said: “I’m really excited to be joining Sported as an ambassador. I know how much getting involved in sports can help young people and I’m looking forward to visiting as many of the sports groups as I can and witness for myself how much of a difference they are making to communities across the UK. It is a privilege to take on this role.
“At HR Sports Academy it was fantastic to see how much enjoyment the young people clearly get from their involvement in these activities, but far more important to know the deeper difference it’s making in their lives. I’m humbled by the work of the group leaders who commit so much to supporting these young people with the challenges they face.”
Nicola Walker, CEO of Sported, adds: “We’re thrilled to have Eric join the Sported family. Judging by the reaction of all the young people during his visit to HR Sports Academy, he is a great role model for young people. We’re looking forward to working with him closely and continuing to make a real difference to young people’s lives.
“HR Sports Academy are a wonderful example of how sport can be used to engage young people and provide them with routes to more positive futures. There is countless number of similar stories across the UK which reflect the critical role sport plays in the lives of young people. Our work at Sported is to ensure that groups like HR Sports Academy can grow their support for young people during these difficult times.”
It has never been a harder time to be a young person growing up in the UK. One in 4 children live in poverty; recorded knife crime has more than doubled in the past 5 years, 80% of young people note their mental health has worsened in recent months, and youth unemployment is at an all-time high. In addition, 750 youth centres and more than 4,500 youth workers have been lost over the last 10 years, and spending on youth services in England and Wales has been cut by 70% in real terms. Sported’s network is continuing to make a difference to hundreds of thousands of young people’s lives across the country.
For more information on The Times and Sunday Times Christmas Appeal, please visit http://thetimes.co.uk/christmasappeal.