Basketball England named Sport Organisation of the Year at national awards

Basketball England (BE) has won the 2023 Bishop Lloyd Jackson Sport Organisation of the Year Award.

The news was announced on the 21 October at the Sporting Equals Awards evening, hosted at the Royal Lancaster Hotel, London.

The award recognises a sports organisation that has made excellent progress on the agenda for ethnically diverse people and communities and is an example to follow.

Additionally, popular basketball coach Ruth Eytle was one of the runners-up in the Coach of the Year category, alongside football manager Darren Moore, with the award going to athletics coach Leon Baptiste.

Eytle said:

"I wanted to be that role model for other black female coaches, in fact all female coaches because there’s not enough of us.

“Everyone always remembers their first coach. You always remember that coach that taught you to love the game. And I've always enjoyed doing that.”

Her placing in the category's final three was in recognition of her work with England's U14 girls this summer, honing GB's future talent. And for her Activities 4 U programme, her popular HoopsB4Work – a weekly adults recreational basketball programme in Central and South London – and her work with London All Stars women’s team.

Eytle recently spoke to BE about her desire to be a role model for female coaches.

BE CEO Stewart Kellett said:

“We are ecstatic to receive this award from Sporting Equals, and hugely proud of Ruth and her achievement of being a nationally recognised coach of the year finalist.

"The award marks an extraordinary turnaround for the sport and the organisation after the devastation of COVID-19. The effect of the pandemic combined with the inequalities that have prevailed for so long in society amplified our need to change and respond differently.  

“The resiliency and resourcefulness of our basketball community during the worst years of the pandemic, and the medal success for our England teams at Birmingham 2022, have helped us to reposition the game as an inspirational sport that is safe, welcoming and accessible to everyone.

“Part of that journey has been a serious and transparent look at our equality, diversity and inclusion work and processes from the Board room to what happens on game day.

“We are an anti-racist organisation, but to tackle inequalities we had to build strong organisational processes from listening, learning, engaging, and then changing the way we do things.

“We have been working with more partners that align with us and our agenda, and are embedding processes to help people feel comfortable with challenging the organisation or raising a concern in the community and feeling confident that we can act on it; they can trust and rely on us, and we have the personnel with the knowledge and relatability to do something about it.

“It’s good to be an exemplary organisation but to truly tackle inequality, we cannot become complacent and must keep being outspoken and drive the change.” 

Sporting Equals CEO Arun Kang OBE said: 

“Congratulations to Basketball England on its award win.

“The governing body has worked hard to back up its commitments to equality, diversity and inclusion beyond pledges and rhetoric, especially, since the Black Lives Matter movement. This is evident by the fact it has come top of our Race Representation Index two years in a row.

“There is a display of true diversity within basketball in this country and that can be seen through its governance, coaching and talent pathways, as well as at grassroots. Long may Basketball England continue to tackle discrimination and promote fairness and respect.”

Ruth Eytle

Race Representation Index

BE was the only national governing body of sport to achieve an overall ‘A’ grade in the 2022 Race Representation Index.

Additionally, participation figures have shown an increase in ethnically diverse communities playing the sport, particularly, from the Chinese community.

This was achieved through a granular and systematic approach to working towards becoming an anti-racist organisation, including holding one-to-one meeting, digital and physical group calls to understand the challenges faced by ethnically diverse communities.

Key steps taken by BE included:

  • Reviewing policies with an external partner
  • Developing an EDI committee
  • Employing an EDI Manager
  • Improving the reporting process for racial discrimination
  • Adopting an openly anti-racist posture
  • Promoting anti-racist resources
  • Quintupling the integrity team so capacity was not an issue

This resulted in the staff growing from 12% to 25% ethnically diverse in three years while the board held at 30%. It also resulted in the sport being 34% ethnically diverse.

Formerly, the British Ethnic Diversity Sports Awards, the Sporting Equals Awards celebrate the achievements of race equity in sports, as well as the contributions made by ethnically diverse people and communities to sport.