The UK Sports Minister was among those who attended last night’s launch of the Asian Sports Foundation’s (ASF) strategy to improve the health of the Asian community living in England.

ASF launch event Stuart Andrew MP (left) and Jug Johal (right)

The ASF is a charity established in 2015 that aims to increase the sporting and physical activity levels of people of all ages from ethnic minority backgrounds, with a specific focus on supporting people from Asian communities in England.

Among the attendees at the launch of the ASF Strategy ‘Active Lives, Healthy Futures’, at City Hall London, on Monday evening (18), was Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Sport Stuart Andrew MP, the Chief Executive of Sport England Tim Hollingsworth and Annie Zaidi MBE, founder of the Coach AnnieZ Foundation – an initiative supported by ASF.


Jug Johal, Chairman of the ASF, said:

“We are further developing our plans to increase Asian participation in sport to improve the health of the community, with the additional gains of better community cohesion, positive attitudes about life and living in the UK and even on crime prevention.

“We will continue to work to support and empower inspirational people and groups who are active in our communities, people like Annie Zaidi, enabling them to do more of what they are so good at – driving change and challenging behaviour. We will also build on our work with sporting bodies and clubs to provide them with better insight to support their work as well as high-quality EDI training to help create more inclusive sport and communities.

“While we will collaborate with established partners such as Premiership Rugby and the Alliance of Sport to realise our aims, we encourage other sporting organisations to contact us. We will offer our specialist knowledge of the cultural and religious nuances in the Asian community to help organisations develop plans to better the physical and mental wellbeing of Asians in a fun, safe and structured ways – and you never know they may uncover the next Moeen Ali or Isa Guha.”1


‘Active Lives, Healthy Futures’


‘Active Lives, Healthy Futures’ involves ASF undertaking and then providing research and insight to national sporting bodies, professional sports clubs and any other organisations looking to better engage with Asian communities in England. ASF will offer tailored training courses (online and face-to-face) for organisations looking to better engage with Asian communities. The ASF will help organisations that provide this sort of outreach work to find longer-term funding. And the ASF has a tiered membership offer which sees it provide bespoke support packages for a range of organisations depending on their own individual needs.

ASF’s strategy and work matters because people from some ethnic minority groups are more likely to report being in poorer health and to report poorer experiences of using health services than their white counterparts. For example, rates of cardiovascular disease (CVD) and diabetes are higher among Black and South Asian groups than white groups. Asian women from poorer backgrounds are the least active group in the country. South Asian children have lower levels of physical fitness than children in white European and Black groups, and physical activity levels are lower among children from ethnic minority groups compared with white groups.2


Build a healthier nation

The ASF strategy is timely as the Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) published a policy paper last month to help build a healthier nation by tackling high levels of inactivity. Among its aims is to make sport and physical activity more inclusive and welcoming for all. And it includes an ambition to have 0.19 million more active Asian adults, particularly people from Indian, Pakistani and Bangladeshi ethnic groups by 2030.3


Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Sport Stuart Andrew MP said:

“Sport and physical activity provide huge benefits for our mental and physical health, so we are determined to improve access and inclusivity across the sector.

 “I welcome the Asian Sports Foundation’s ‘Active Lives, Healthy Futures’ strategy that closely aligns with our own recently published sports strategy which aims to have 3.5 million more active people by 2030.”

To date, the foundation has largely been funded through support from Sport England which has enabled ASF to in-turn support a number of projects in targeted areas of England. Among ASF’s high-profile past work was Project Rugby with Premiership Rugby – an initiative to get more women and girls active through rugby and Active Families in Bradford – a project to engage and motivate families to be more active, together.

Tim Hollingsworth, CEO of Sport England, said:

“Sport England is delighted to support the launch of this strategy and the aims of the Asian Sport Foundation. ‘Active Lives, Healthy Future’ brings a welcome, timely and important focus on the role that playing sport and being physically active can have in improving the health and wellbeing of the Asian community living in England.

“As a strategy, it is in tune with ‘Uniting the Movement’ – with a central purpose of getting the nation moving, and an ambition to tackle the stubborn structural and systemic inequalities that exist so that people can feel the benefit of playing sport and being physically active to their physical and mental health and live happier healthier lives regardless of where they live, their background or bank balance.”

Notes for editors
  1. Moeen is a current British cricketer who won the (men’s) cricket world cup in 2019 with England. Isa Guha is a British cricket commentator, television and radio cricket broadcaster, and won the (women’s) cricket world cup in 2009 with England.

Annie Zaidi is Founder of Coach AnnieZ Foundation.

  1. The health of people from ethnic minority groups in England – The King’s Fund, May 2023
  2. Policy paper: Get Active: a strategy for the future of sport and physical activity – DCMS, 30 August 2023
  3. Case study of ASF work

A key aspect of our strategy and on-going work is providing support to inspiring individuals and community organisations driving change in their communities.

We supported Annie Zaidi to set up her own charity, the Coach AnnieZ Foundation, working with Annie to help her get registered with the Charity Commission and providing funding to enable her work to get established and start to thrive.

Through her foundation, Annie works to empower, inspire and encourage girls and young women to get involved in sport and realise their potential.

Annie Zaidi “I’m not sure what I would have done without the Asian Sports Foundation, they have been a huge help to me in establishing my charity and enabling me to make more impact in the community.”