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Sirayah has been in love with sports all of her life. Through her eyes, I can’t help but see the joy and camaraderie that sport brings into communities because of how vocal and knowledgeable she is about the power of playing it and the ways, historically, it has uplifted people. With her respect for the role of sports in society, Sirayah has always been outspoken about the importance of ensuring its made accessible to people, in particular those usually disenfranchised from enjoying its culture. As a woman, her voice carries so much weight for young girls and as a biracial woman, her presence in the community makes so many people, like myself, feel seen. Sirayah’s love for football is second to none, supporting the Chelsea team in particular, she channels her joy for the game effortlessly. There isn’t a person in her life she doesn’t touch with her respect for the game by bringing people together to experience it. She plays sports, loves football and has the blue gear, but most importantly, her story is that she builds a community around sport, she uses it as a medium to bring about social change, and how she’s used it to embolden the voices of young people is a testament to that.
Reason for nomination:
Sirayah deserves to be seen because she dedicates her career to actioning her beliefs about who sports should be shared and enjoyed by: everyone. Within a year of leaving a full-time role in the financial sector. Sirayah has created a career as an EDI specialist for football institutions, directly informing their strategy on how spaces in football can attract diverse talent and retain it. She launched her own sports media podcast: The Shiraz Segment, where weekly she dissects topical conversations in the sports community with a lens that’s relatable, insightful, thought provoking- as well as loaded with humour. She shares her platform with guests who have their unique backgrounds in sports, and in this, the journalism she’s pioneering explains how sports is an arbiter of culture, how it can re-engage groups left behind and in what ways voices, like the ones she’s bringing on to her platform, can be used to show why sport should matter to all and why everyone’s right to sport should be defended. This is where Sirayah builds community. No other person I know has even an ounce of the commitment Sirayah has to bring sports to the masses. From championing for young women to have access to sport, to facilitating social mobility by working with charities that tackle class inequalities by teaching young professionals leadership and teambuilding skills through sports games. Sirayah has always been authentically herself, blending her love of sport and uplifting young people, and as one of the young people she’s helped, it’s an absolute honour to nominate her. Her impact has been and will be felt by many for years to come, and for this reason, my nominee deserves to be seen.