Nike Future Leaders in Sport

The Future Leaders in Sport programme worked with 12 inspirational young people from ethnically diverse backgrounds (aged 16-30) who are passionate about harnessing the power of sport to promote equality, diversity and inclusion in their local communities.


Sported and Nike have teamed up to support grassroots organisations who are harnessing the power of sport to have a positive impact on their local community.

The Future Leaders in Sport programme is part of Nike’s Until We All Win strategy to advance equality within communities. It aligns with Sported’s own focus on reaching and supporting under-represented groups using Sport for Social Change.

Young leaders on the programme benefitted from a 12-month package of tailored support, mentoring and personal development opportunities, to help develop and launch their own Sport for Change project.

Future Leader Spotlight


We caught up with one of the Nike Future Leaders in Sport, Olivia Eastwood-Gray, in March 2022. Olivia is currently studying for a masters in Sport Leadership and Business at Loughborough University London and is also Brand and Projects manager at BADU Sports.

Can you tell us about growing up and getting into Netball?


I was born, raised and educated in Hackney borough and I’ve been exposed to sport from a young age. My Dad used to play football on Hackney marshes every Sunday, so I kind of had that team exposure from quite a young age. My Dad is still friends with a lot of them, so I’ve seen the positives of sport.

I found netball when I was in secondary school, I started to play when I was 11 years old, and had a PE teacher who was a big netball player. We had a school team which ended up being really quite good, and from then my netball coach just started pushing me into different avenues. From that I was able to do County training and I was lucky enough to be in the England under 19’s development squad. That was good because I didn’t know it possible.

Did you have any influential role models when you were going through your netball journey? Or just sport in general, and how did they inspire you?

I think my parents. I like the idea of role models, but I never really think of a celebrity or somebody that really pulls me in. My parents have always been supportive of that, my dad would drive me everywhere and I think being exposed to sport from a young age, and seeing what that was like has been really influential in terms of how I played, but also what I do now. I think, not necessarily a role model, but my sense of home is really important to me. I think that translates into my work,

I’m Hackney through and through, and think because of that I’ve got a very good sense of identity and that’s translated into what I do and how I approach life.

How has being a female in sport benefitted you?

When people say being a woman in sport, I don’t really define myself as that. If I look at it from playing sport, I was shy, I didn’t come out of my shell, and I think being in a team setting really helped me with that. I think being in an all-female sport can be tricky, because you never know how that’s going to go. Is it going to be really bitchy, or really friendly? But I’ve got friends for life through playing a female sport and the sisterhood that comes with it is really beneficial.

I want people to go through all of the good that I had, but not the bad. So, if I can impart some wisdom or share some experience and that stops some girls getting deterred, dropping out, not feeling like they have support, I want to do that. I think that’s one of my motivators, I’m an older sister, I want my sister to see me as somebody who she can look up to. I don’t want to be seen as inspirational but I want it to have the effect that people can see its achievable. I know I haven’t done anything major just yet but, the little things I think are really important, so if I can pass them on, I will.

What advice would you give to any females who want to participate and get involved in sport?

I always say this, and I don’t want to sound like a Nike strapline, but just do it. 

You need a friend, you need an advocate that’s on your wavelength, take them with you and just try something new. And then whatever can happen from that, let it happen. 

I think that’s probably the really important thing for women especially, and I know I’ve done this a lot myself, I get so inside my head and think, I can’t do it, I’m not going to do it, I get really shy.

As a young female, what is harder for girls than boys do you think when it comes to sport?

I think it is this concept of being boxed in, usually by male counterparts. So what if a girl wants to play football or something that it isn’t defined as girly. It’s this social construct really of what it means to be female and not to be too masculine for example.

I think obviously there are the standard barriers we know about. Like the biological factors of going through puberty for example, that really impacts young girls and young women. It’s like, how do you navigate that? But for me, it always boils down to the support system of, not necessarily family, but when young girls are in school, what are we doing to engage them?

I was really luck with my PE teacher, she was great, and a great female to have. But it’s the structure of support to young girls outside of the home environment, that really plays an important factor in how they decide to access sport or not. I’d say that’s probably a big thing.

Rishan Walker and Nimrah Chaudhry, two of the young people taking part in the Sported and Nike Future Leaders in Sport programme, got the chance to catch up with Sported ambassador and Tottenham Hotspur and England defender, Eric Dier. The two inspirational future leaders had been selected to benefit from a 12-month package of tailored support, mentoring and personal development opportunities, to help develop and launch their own Sport for Change project.  

Meet our Future Leaders


Rishan Walker

Combining dance with mental health for young women and girls – providing them with the tools they need for better health.


Olivia Eastwood-Gray

Building an existing netball programme into something long-term and consistent, providing an opportunity for all the girls that want to play a space to do so.


Nimrah Chaudhry

Providing young people with disa-bilities an opportunity to access all kinds of different sports so they are able to get involved with sport and physical activity regularly.


Jamani Matthews

Utilising dance to help young BAME men improve their skills in other sports including football and basketball – agility, bal-ance, coordination. Wants to develop a pro-gramme that brings dance together with train-ing for other sports.


JJ Roble

Providing regular football sessions for young BAME Muslim women in Brent with opportunities to also coach and referee alongside.


Iqra Ismail

Safe, comfortable, accessible place for BAME Muslim women to play football.


David Adesanya

Combining table tennis with public space and community engagement – creating a network of places young people can play table tennis and working closely with local communi-ties to help at local shelters/with local orgs.


Noussayba Kahlalech

Provide a safe, accessible space for BAME Muslim women in the local community to learn MMA and try activities they don’t feel comfortable trying otherwise.


Lauren Small

Increase diversity and access for BAME people in roller derby across London – to create an inclusive and safe space for people to try the sport and feel part of the community. There also adaptations that can be made to ensure everyone can participate.


Debra Nelson

Safe, comfortable, accessible and affordable place for BAME women to play foot-ball.


Ibrahim Al-Ezzo

Via Refugee Action Kingston, Ibrahim wants to support other refugees and asylum seekers in Kingston and surrounding areas to access sport and physical activity – language being a key barrier.


Raya Ahmed-Sakhi

Safe, comfortable, accessible and affordable place for BAME women to play foot-ball.

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