Seren Jones (left), co-founder of the BSA, helps to deliver a swimming lesson as part of a pilot scheme Credit: The BSA
The Black Swimming Association (BSA) and Sport Wales have announced a new partnership, which aims to make swimming and other aquatic sports more ethnically diverse in Wales.
The partnership is considered a milestone for both organisations.
Not only does the agreement represent a significant commitment to tackle the existing inequalities in the aquatics sector, but it’s also the first time the BSA will have a presence in Wales.
The announcement also comes a year after Sport Wales and the other UK sports councils commissioned the Tackling Racism and Racial Inequalities in Sport Review (TRARIIS), acknowledging that more needs to be done ‘to make sport welcoming, inclusive, and diverse’ at all levels.
“As someone who is Welsh and who grew up as an athlete in Cardiff, I couldn’t be happier about our new partnership with Sport Wales,” says BSA co-founder, Seren Jones, who swam competitively for the City of Cardiff Swimming Club.
“Working in Wales means our research and programmes that are already underway in England will be transferred, implemented and developed here. As we grow, so will our partnerships with the Welsh aquatics sector, as well as our relationships with communities in Wales.”
“Working with Sport Wales not only means that the work we’re doing is successful and scaling up, but it also means that we can work together to engage more people from African, Caribbean and Asian communities in Wales in water safety education, swimming and everything the Welsh aquatics sector has to offer,” says BSA co-founder and Chair, Danielle Obe.
The partnership will see the creation of a BSA Programme Delivery Manager post based in the Welsh capital of Cardiff, where the Sport Wales head office is also located. Not only will the role ensure that the BSA’s existing aquatics programmes are developed in Wales, but it will also have an emphasis on community engagement by building long-lasting relationships with African, Caribbean and Asian communities in South Wales.
The work will also contribute towards preliminary social research activities across Cardiff, Newport and Swansea, which will feed into research and findings the charity is already conducting in England.
In addition to its research programme and aquatic clinics, the BSA is also looking to address the racial inequalities in the UK’s aquatic workforce by increasing the number of people of Black and Asian heritage by 25% by 2024. Currently, less than 3% of lifeguards, swimming coaches and volunteers in the sector are from African, Caribbean and Asian communities.
Brian Davies, Sport Wales’ Acting CEO, said: “In order to make sport more welcoming, inclusive, and diverse in Wales, we want to broaden our networks so that we are working with more experts who have a better understanding of the communities that we’re seeking to engage with.
“We’re therefore thrilled to create this new partnership with the Black Swimming Association to improve opportunities for people of African, Caribbean and Asian heritage to engage in aquatic activities. We’re very interested in the BSA’s research into the participation barriers which diverse communities face, as well as their plans for increasing the representation of Black and Asian people in the aquatic workforce.
“By having workforces and volunteers from more diverse backgrounds, Welsh sport can realise the benefits that come from a wider range of perspectives, experiences, skills and talents.
“Just as importantly, we look forward to seeing how the BSA can complement the work already being done by Swim Wales and other organisations within our existing wider partner network.”