Sporting Equals - House of Commons Reception

Overcoming barriers and prejudice

Sol Campbell: "The most important thing was to believe in myself and and have a strong mental attitude. Many people would tell you, that you can't do this and don't believe in you. I have had coaches, managers, friends tell me they don't believe it is possible but you have to keep believing."

Denise Lewis: "I echo alot of what Sol said about believing in your ability and yourself but vitally important for female perspective is having that confidence, because you will have to go through many changes and challenges to your body and mentality to pursue your goals."

Annie Zaidi: "What inspired me is the people that were negative and said you can't play football because your asian, muslim, female with a headscarf, you have to fulfil other roles. They motivated me to prove them wrong and show them that I can be all those things but also a pofessional coach."

On the lack of diversity

Helen Grant MP: Change is not going quick enough but to bring about real, sustainable change you need more than one or two organisations and just throw money at them. That can be the beginning of things but you need to build on it. We need the governing bodies, athletes, politicians and even the media to push at the same level."

Denise Lewis: "We need real change at all levels and that is no just at board or competition level but in terms of the make up of organisations such as the volunteers, physio's and trainers. These are vital roles and my success would have not been possible without their support"

On the Rooney Rule

Sol Campbell: "The way the sport (Football) is structured in this country is different to NFL. They are franchises but in England each club is independent and yes we have the FA, Premier League and Football League but we have to get all the clubs to agree and that requires a change in mentality."

Annie Zaidi: "Not a fan of the Rooney rule and don't want it really. I believe in meritocracy and want the role based and my performance and I feel you will just be a statistic, as your only there to pump up the numbers of ethnic minorities."

Helen Grant MP: "Not so keen on quotas for the reasons mentioned by Annie but it is good to have targets and that will help bring the agenda into focus."

Sol Campbell: "I think we don't adopt the whole Rooney rule but parts of it we can definitely make work but ultimately we need to stop talking and the people in power need make decisions."