Nia: Our communities need more authentic voices

Over the last six months ConnectSport has enjoyed hosting Nia Harris, a Sport Psychology student from Loughborough University, who has been working with us during her placement. Here she speaks about her experience of working with ConnectSport, and why she believes there is a need for more authentic voices in our communities.

Working with ConnectSport during my placement has taught me a lot about the sport for development sector, and how people and different organisations across the UK use sport in some shape or form to better their lives.

As a Sport Psychology student, I have always been passionate about the psychological side of sport and physical activity. I am a strong advocate of talking about the benefits of sport for our mental health and wellbeing, and this is something ConnectSport continues to showcase from communities and sport organisations across the UK. However, seeing how the platform also shines a light on other outcomes of sports participation such as tackling gender inequality and racism, was new to me and something I have never focused on in sport.

This made me really enjoy helping to put together content as each article we showcase relates to one of the Sustainable Development Goals, a collection of 17 inter-linked global targets designed to help achieve a better and more sustainable future for all.

ConnectSport’s agenda to show how sport is being used to achieve these goals and tackle social issues has shifted my perspective from just thinking about the psychological impacts and has opened my eyes to many other ways that sport and/or physical activity are being used to impact and support individuals and communities in need.

Some stories that I particularly found interesting included Everton in the Community tacking uniform poverty and Rio Ferdinand’s ‘United Against Racism’ project. Reading and contributing to the publication of stories on these topics each week allowed me to understand the power of sport in different ways and learn about its social outcomes on a wider scale.

This whole experience has made me realise why we need platforms like ConnectSport to share these stories to inspire and educate others. It's also been great to hear how many other organisations appreciate the platform through our 50/50 campaign. I think it is so important that ConnectSport promotes the 'other side' of sport as you never know how a story could impact those reading it, or encourage them to also use sport for the better.

In the first article that I wrote for ConnectSport, I used my personal experience of attending the Brixton Street Gym (BSG) to show the positive work my community is doing to help others through physical activity.

I wanted to share this story to hopefully inspire someone reading it to find a community and environment that encourages physical activity, family and positivity - just like I did at BSG.

Putting together the BSG article made me think of how powerful it would be if we had more voices to tell their stories of how sport has impacted them and their communities, and how that could help others out there.

I really believe we need to be able to hear more authentic voices in our communities across the UK. There are so many people out there using sport in amazing ways; we just need to hear their voices and help share their stories, so that this side of sport – with its vital role in building communities and supporting individuals – can be clearly understood.

ConnectSport is committed to supporting and training young people from diverse communities to tell the stories of those communities. Read about our journalism project here. We also urgently need sponsors or supporters to help sustain our not-for-profit news platform; contact to find out how your organisation could benefit.