07th December 2023
The team at Defiant Sports
The Rix & Kay Solicitors LLP Inclusion & Diversity Award winners - Defiant Sports
An organisation originally created out of a frustration to find a suitable place in the sporting community for her son has been recognised for its work.
Defiant Sports, based in Eastbourne, has won The Rix & Kay Solicitors LLP Inclusion & Diversity Award at this year’s Sussex Sports & Physical Activity Awards.
Managing director Loretta Lock said: “Our main aim is to make sport inclusive for everybody.
“We know there are a lot of barriers to participation out there and we want to overcome that so we work with anyone and everyone who has got a barrier and we will keep expanding until everybody can be included in sport and nobody is left out.”
Loretta created the company after several years of fighting to support her son, Callum, who was diagnosed with autism, cerebral palsy and impaired vision, to find a suitable place in the sporting community.
She said: “I watched my son struggle with limited options, being given advice including ‘Put him in a wheelchair to play’ or ‘We are inclusive, we have a ramp!’ causing him to think sports wasn’t for him, further isolating him, lowering his self-esteem and happiness.
“Eventually, we found tennis for the visually impaired. Here, he found comfort in playing with others with a barrier to participation and excelled, soon becoming a national champion.
“He became happy, confident and his self-esteem skyrocketed – it was life-changing.”
Loretta said the award meant a ‘huge amount’ to the team, adding: “The area is getting harder, funding is really difficult to come by.
“The work we do is always going to need funding. It is never going to be self sufficient as we work with people with barriers so more staff are needed, the equipment is specialised, everything costs more.
“So we are constantly looking for funding and this year we have struggled so much.
“So to come here and still hear we are clearly doing the right thing, we are doing well and supporting our community it really does mean a lot as that is all we want to do.”
Defiant Sports works with a wide range of marginalised and excluded communities.
These range from children and young people with SEND, through to adults with learning disabilities, people with physical impairments and long-term health conditions.
They also work with the LBGTQIA+ community, the Bangladeshi community, refugees and asylum seekers, people recovering from drug or alcohol misuse, and young people at risk of offending.
They have worked with more than 600 players this year, plus more through bespoke visits to care homes, day centres, dementia groups, schools and other groups.
2023 has been an exciting year for the organisation, taking over Fisherman’s Green Tennis courts in Eastbourne as coaching provider on behalf of Eastbourne Council.
Defiant Sports has ensured the courts stay free for all to help overcome financial discrimination, and helped to overcome any potential digital exclusion by offering free open door sessions.
Defiant Sports held its third Annual Eastbourne Festival for Accessible sport, inviting other providers and support organisations to showcase their offers to those with barriers to participation, ensuring more people have access to sport.
They are part of a large number of inclusion groups, train others in accessibility, and work hard to make their communications accessible for all through a range of tools and initiatives.
To find out more about Defiant Sports, visit: defiantsports.org.uk