The incredible effort demonstrated by UEA Sport and all who were involved in the Pride in UEA Sport campaign has been recognised at the 2021 BUCS Awards. In winning the National Diversity and Inclusion Award, UEA has risen above competition from other universities across the UK. The campaign was organised by the UEA Hockey Club and sought to give a voice to the LGBTQ+ members of over 52 clubs at the University of East Anglia.
Upon receiving the award, Owen Hooper, the President of UEA Hockey, said: “The project has highlighted the positive impact university students can have, and we are sure that this will set a precedent [for]what it means to be part of our university and how it can act as a vehicle for positive change within society”. This important part of the campaign is key as society still has huge strides to take in seeking equality and inclusion and highlights that universities can lead the way in setting an example.
Sport has not always provided a welcoming environment for all and can even be daunting, so this campaign looked to “highlight that sports clubs at UEA are open to everyone regardless of their sexual orientation”. We can be especially proud of the work UEA Sport does to encourage participation and diversity at this university because some professional and grassroots sport still has a long way to go.
As recently as the 2020 European Championships, Manuel Neuer, the German goalkeeper, was investigated by UEFA for wearing a rainbow-coloured captain’s armband in support of LGBTQ+ rights in Pride Month. Although they eventually dropped the investigation, UEFA had disappointingly described the armband as a political statement. England’s captain Harry Kane then also wore a rainbow-coloured armband during the last-16 game against Germany to show his and the team’s backing for LGBTQ+ rights.
BUCS chose to focus this year, in which there has been a lack of competitive sport, on social contribution from universities. Dame Katherine Grainger, Chair of UK Sport noted UEA’s campaign demonstrated “the work [universities] do in their communities to improve the lives of people through sport and physical activity”.