The 2023 Sporting Equals Community Champion of the Year Award included finalists Zhico Chatha and Saffiya Sayeed. Zhico Chatha is part of SP Boxing, working tirelessly to allow individuals of different ethnic backgrounds, ages and genders an opportunity to take part in boxing. Safiya Saeed is a developer of Reach Up Youth, an organisation which supports and mentor’s young people. She has formed a partnership with Sheffield Sharks Basketball Club to empower young people to play and have employment opportunities on match days.
Our worthy winner was Ashok Das, founder of The England Kabaddi Association. Ashok has dedicated the last 30 years to the sport of Kabbadi since becoming a volunteer in 1993. His achievements include being part of the team who organised the first international event in Birmingham and having Kabaddi games featured on BBC Sport and Channel 4.
Ashok is a qualified Kabaddi coach and Technical Officer delivering World Kabaddi courses to hundreds of organisations including schools, universities (in London and Birmingham), local clubs, national clubs and the armed forces. To make the game more accessible to school children Ashok designed Tag Kabaddi a simplified version of the sport which over 3,000 school children took part in 2022.
School engagement wasn’t Ashok’s only focus last year he has also helped hundreds of athletes to participate in the North Championship, won by Birmingham Bulls. In addition to this he has helped to train and fund the English National team to compete in the European championships where they were runners up.
As a result of Ashok’s hard work and determination England has been selected to be hosts of the 2025 Men’s and Woman’s Kabaddi World Cup. To support the bid to bring the Kabaddi World Cup to England Ashok gained support from the Midlands Combined Authority, Midlands Growth Company, Mayor and local council leaders.
Ashok’s legacy in Kabaddi stands as a testament to the power that an individual’s passion can have in shaping the trajectory of a sport, in recent years the sport has moved to new continents including Africa, Europe, North America and South America where Ashok has helped to coach and train players. He continues to inspire players and supporters alike, creating unity through sport.
Ashok was presented the award by Dal Darroch (Head of Diversity & Inclusion strategic programmes at The FA), Steven Caulker (Captain of the Sierra Leone National Football Team) and Vanessa Wallace PLY (Paralympic Shot Put and Javelin).
Congratulations to Ashok on his win it is inspiring to see the growth of Kabaddi in the UK and the benefit which it brings to communities.