Black History Month Leadership in Sport: Henry T. Gaspard BEM LeaderBoard Academy Graduate Spotlight

As part of our celebrations during Black History Month we will be looking at leadership, role models and community organisations who inspire, support and deliver true impact in UK sport and physical activity. Today we will be reflecting on the unique journey of LeaderBoard Academy Graduate and Black Arrows Badminton Club Chair - Henry T. Gaspard BEM.
 
1. What is your background in sport?
• I have been involved in sport for most of my life as a participant, taking part in a range of representation sports at school and club level, such as football, cricket, athletics, rugby and badminton. In 1974, I took up the sport of badminton, which remains my main sport to date. I have played county badminton at a junior, senior and veterans level representing Bedfordshire and Essex.
 
• In 1984 I set up Tottenham Black Arrows Badminton club, which is better known as Black Arrows. The club is based in Tottenham and gives young ethnically diverse participants the opportunity to play competitive and social badminton in an environment and setting where they were not in the minority.
 
• Black Arrows continues to provide the opportunity for communities across North and East London to take part competitive Badminton.
 
• I have worked in Youth, Sport and Community development for over 35 years, leading on projects to increase greater ethnically diverse community representation in sport from participation to excellence, creating more management, coaching, training and volunteering opportunities.
 
2. What inspired you to apply for LeaderBoard Academy?
• I was attracted to the LeaderBoard Academy, in order to meet, network, share learning and best practice with likeminded people who were actively engaged in the sector through their individual sports. I was also interested in the concept of creating opportunities for ethnically diverse participants to engage in sport through participation to excellence. I also wanted more learning around developing volunteering, coaching and other opportunities for members to play a leading role in the development of sport for their communities.
 
• The LeaderBoard Academy gave us a better insight and understanding on the lack of ethnically diverse community representation at board-level in major sport organisations in the UK, the encouragement, support and belief that we had the skills, knowledge and ability to apply for such board positions to make a difference through cultural diversity was invaluable.
 
3. Have you graduated the programme? If yes, have you received a board role and if so where?
• I graduated the programme in 2020, but due to the Covid pandemic and new work responsibilities, I made a conscious decision not to apply for board roles, but now feel that I am now in a better position to do so to put into practice what had been learnt.
 
4. Who is an example and inspiration to you as a leader?
• Muhammed Ali - Who stood firm with his principles, beliefs and values of equality of opportunity for his fellow Black people.
 
5. What is leadership to you?
• Leadership is the ability to motivate, inspire and support others around you to achieve their goals, be it personal or organisational goals.
 
6. Why is diversity in leadership important?
• Diversity in leadership is important to provide a greater cultural understanding, tolerance of difference and perspective that we as ethnically diverse people have something valuable to contribute. Only through such diversity can we encourage others, that they too can achieve and aspire to such positions of power, responsibility and influence.
 
7. How would you define race equality in sport?
• Race equality in sport is about providing an equal playing field, not only on the field of sport, but in the boardroom of the decision-makers, in the management of the organisations leading on the development of sport, providing more opportunities for ethnically diverse managers, coaches and officials to achieve in their chosen roles. Creating role models to aspire others who want to follow such paths.
 
For more information about Sporting Equals' LeaderBoard Academy and how to apply please click here.