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Adekanmi Abayomi named BBC Sports Personality's Unsung Hero for Northern Ireland for work with ethnic minority groups


Great work: Adekanmi Abayomi shows off the BBC’s 2020 Unsung Hero Award for Northern Ireland

Great work: Adekanmi Abayomi shows off the BBC’s 2020 Unsung Hero Award for Northern Ireland

Great work: Adekanmi Abayomi shows off the BBC’s 2020 Unsung Hero Award for Northern Ireland

Adekanmi Abayomi is the winner of this year's BBC Sports Personality of The Year Unsung Hero Award for Northern Ireland.

Adekanmi founded EMSONI (Ethnic Minority Sports Organisation Northern Ireland) in 2018 to encourage people from ethnic minority groups and communities to participate in sport.

As a volunteer, he works across Belfast and throughout Northern Ireland encouraging and promoting the importance of sport at a grassroots level, inspiring others to take part and help reduce racial inequality in sport.

On top of his volunteer work, Adekanmi is also a certified football and handball coach and referee. He teaches walking football twice a week as well as refereeing it, and helped set up the Walking Football Federation in Northern Ireland which now boasts two teams from ethnic minority backgrounds.

One of the most successful initiatives set up by Adekanmi was last year's Northern Ireland Confederations Cup - a football tournament that brought together teams from 12 communities across Northern Ireland. Intended to be an annual tournament, the competition included teams from Algerian, Zimbabwean, Ghanaian, Polish and Belfast backgrounds taking part.

Adekanmi said: "The attitude of helping society has always been part of me.

"My purpose here in Northern Ireland through sport is to help my community to break barriers to sport participation and to see how we can address racial inequalities in sport.

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"It is important that we use sport in moving society forward. Sport has a lot to do in terms of changing society for better.

"I'm short of words. I really didn't expect this award. It came as a shock to me, so I am really excited and happy about it. This will be in my memory for a long time."

Away from the sporting arena, Adekanmi champions the needs and importance of attracting minority and ethnic communities to sport, organising the first Ethnic Minority Sports Leadership Summit in 2019. He was appointed to the board of the Northern Ireland Sport and Human Rights Forum last year.

Adekanmi will represent Northern Ireland as one of the 15 finalists for the overall Unsung Hero Award, with the winner being announced live on BBC One at the BBC Sports Personality of the Year later this month.

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