The Asian Sports Foundation (ASF), a charitable organization established in 2015, is taking significant strides to enhance sports and physical activity participation among individuals of all ages, with a particular focus on Asian communities in England. The ASF’s latest initiative, the “Active Lives, Healthy Futures” strategy, was unveiled at a high-profile event hosted at City Hall London on Monday evening, attracting prominent figures from the sports and government sectors.
Among the notable attendees was Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Sport Stuart Andrew MP, underlining the government’s support for the ASF’s mission. Tim Hollingsworth, the Chief Executive of Sport England, also graced the event, affirming the significance of this strategic endeavor. Annie Zaidi MBE, the founder of the Coach AnnieZ Foundation, an initiative endorsed by ASF, was among the distinguished guests.
The ASF, led by Chairman Jug Johal, has set forth an ambitious vision for the future, aiming to bolster Asian community involvement in sports while simultaneously improving overall community health. Johal emphasized the potential of this endeavor not only to enhance physical well-being but also to foster community cohesion, positive attitudes towards life in the UK, and even crime prevention.
In line with its mission, the ASF plans to support and empower inspirational individuals and groups active within the community, such as Annie Zaidi. The organization seeks to provide them with the necessary resources to continue driving change and challenging prevailing behaviors. Additionally, the ASF intends to collaborate with sporting bodies and clubs, offering valuable insights and delivering high-quality Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion (EDI) training to create more inclusive sporting environments and communities.
The “Active Lives, Healthy Futures” strategy comprises a multifaceted approach that includes research and insights provided by ASF to national sporting bodies, professional sports clubs, and other organizations interested in engaging more effectively with Asian communities in England. Furthermore, the ASF will offer tailored training courses, available both online and in person, to organizations seeking to improve their engagement with these communities.
Crucially, the ASF will assist organizations involved in outreach work to secure long-term funding, ensuring the sustainability of their efforts. The organization will also provide tiered membership offerings, allowing it to tailor support packages to the specific needs of different organizations.
The significance of the ASF’s work cannot be overstated, as individuals from some ethnic minority groups in England are more likely to report poorer health and less favorable experiences with healthcare services than their white counterparts. Conditions such as cardiovascular disease (CVD) and diabetes are more prevalent among Black and South Asian groups, emphasizing the importance of initiatives like “Active Lives, Healthy Futures.”
This strategic initiative aligns with the recent policy paper published by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS), which aims to promote a healthier nation by combatting inactivity. One of the DCMS’s goals is to make sports and physical activity more inclusive and welcoming to all. By 2030, the DCMS aspires to engage an additional 0.19 million active Asian adults, particularly from Indian, Pakistani, and Bangladeshi ethnic backgrounds.
Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Sport Stuart Andrew MP expressed his support for the ASF’s strategy, highlighting its alignment with the government’s vision for greater inclusivity and access to sports and physical activity.
To date, the ASF has primarily received funding from Sport England, enabling it to support numerous projects in targeted areas of England. Notable initiatives include “Project Rugby” with Premiership Rugby, aimed at increasing female participation in rugby, and “Active Families” in Bradford, designed to motivate families to lead more active lives together.
In closing, Tim Hollingsworth, CEO of Sport England, underscored the importance of “Active Lives, Healthy Futures” in promoting the health and well-being of the Asian community in England. He emphasized the alignment of this strategy with Sport England’s broader mission to unite the nation through physical activity, striving to eliminate structural and systemic inequalities to ensure that everyone can enjoy the benefits of sports and physical activity, regardless of their background or location.
The “Active Lives, Healthy Futures” strategy stands as a testament to the ASF’s commitment to fostering inclusivity and well-being, making it a pivotal player in enhancing the health and vitality of Asian communities in England.