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Positive impact of sport the focus of latest NI Sport and Human Rights Forum

13 Feb 2023

The positive impact sport can have on individuals and the community have been highlighted at the latest meeting of the NI Sport & Human Rights Forum meeting.

Joe Lockley demonstrated how Bright Star Boxing Academy use boxing, education and community support to make positive changes, especially for vulnerable people and young people at risk. Outlining their programmes Joe explained how Bright Star Boxing Academy address trauma and empower people to succeed and thrive, focusing on the power of sport to make people feel safe, give them a sense of belonging and improving their mental health.

Anneka Dougan from the Commonwealth Games NI updated on her participation in the Commonwealth Sport Foundation’s eqUIP programme. This skills development initiative aims to empower young leaders to make positive change in sport and their communities. Anneka followed this up with a demonstration of her engagement with young people in schools, bringing awareness of human rights in sport.

Equidem’s Mustafa Qadri spoke about their "If we complain, we are fired" report, which recounts the experiences of migrant workers involved in the construction of stadiums at the Qatar World Cup. The report highlights testimonies of discrimination, forced labour, modern day slavery, violence and safety risks, with recommendations made to FIFA, Qatar, business and sponsors around addressing these types of issues going forward for mega sporting events such as the World Cup.

Chief Commissioner Alyson Kilpatrick said:

“It was great to hear about the amazing work being done by organisations to use sport to empower people, improve their lives and to make positive change in the community.

While there is much to celebrate, the Forum also provided a chance to reflect that there is much to be done to ensure that human rights are at the heart of every element of the sporting world, making sure everyone is treated fairly and with dignity.

I would like to thank all our speakers for taking the time to share their research and experiences with the Forum. It has been an incredibly useful session for members.”



  • The Northern Ireland Sport & Human Rights Forum was established in May 2019. The Forum has been established as a multi-stakeholder platform to facilitate the exchange of knowledge and good practice on sport and human rights issues.
  • The Chair of the NI Sport and Human Rights Forum is Conal Heatley, Business and Operations Manager at Commonwealth Games Northern Ireland.
  • The Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission is an independent statutory body first proposed in the Belfast (Good Friday) Agreement (1998) and established in 1999 by the Northern Ireland Act (1998). It is answerable to Parliament at Westminster.
  • Bright Star is a not for profit organisation that uses boxing and education to empower vulnerable people to make positive changes to transform their lives.
  • Equidem is a human rights and labour rights organisation. We work globally and locally to expose injustice and hidden human rights abuses; to provide practical solutions to the most intractable human rights challenges; and to build powerful community-led coalitions that empower the individual and the community. Their report “If we complain we are fired” can be viewed through the following link:
  • Commonwealth Games Northern Ireland (CGNI) is the lead body for Commonwealth Sport in Northern Ireland. The council is representative of those sports recognised by the Commonwealth Games Federation. They currently have 17 affiliated sports which elect a nine person Board. They are primarily tasked with presenting a team at both the Commonwealth Games and the Commonwealth Youth Games. These are the only opportunities available for athletes to compete in a multi-sport event representing Northern Ireland.
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