FA Council member Yashmin Harun BEM this week took her campaign to increase the number of women from historically underrepresented communities in sport to 10 Downing Street.
Yashmin won the Sport Award at the 2023 Asian Women of Achievement Awards in June for her tireless work and passion in striving to increase representation and provide opportunities for women in sport.
On Tuesday, the FA Council representative was one of around 30 winners and nominees from the 2023 Asian Women of Achievement Awards to attend the home of the Prime Minister.
There Yashmin met with representatives of the Government and other prominent figures in the Asian community to share their insights and experiences, whilst also celebrating their respective achievements.
Yashmin said: “It was a privilege and an honour to attend 10 Downing Street. It was a real pinch-me moment because it was surreal to be there.
“For someone from my background to be at 10 Downing Street, with all these other distinguished women who are achieving so much in their sectors, I was so humbled.
“Just to be among that wealth of knowledge and skillsets, with all those incredible women, was such an honour for me.
“We are underrepresented in sports so to have conversations at 10 Downing Street, with representatives of the Government, was really important.”
A banker by trade, Yashmin’s love of sport saw her create the Muslimah Sports Association in 2014, with the aim of getting more women from the South Asian community involved.
This led to her helping to create a tailored course with the Essex FA and the FA to increase the number of women from the South Asian community going on to become coaches.
Yashmin’s impact has continued to grow and now she is an FA council member and London FA director, whilst also having roles on the London FA’s Inclusion Advisory Group and Women and Girls’ Advisory Group.
She is also a member of the FA Asian female in football working party which contributes knowledge and experience to The FA’s ‘Bringing Opportunities to Communities’ strategy focusing on Asian inclusion across the game. She is also Vice Chair of Inactivity of British Asians in Sports and Physical Activity.
“My day job is in banking, which is a traditional route for the Asian community, but I always wanted to be a footballer, before I quickly realised that wouldn’t be a career path for me,” Yashmin said.
“My passion for increasing representation comes from feeling like I missed out. I was a fast runner growing up and was very sporty but I felt like no one was there to support me or encourage me and tell me ‘perhaps you could have a career in sport’.
“I don’t want the next generation to miss out on that and I don’t want people to feel like they can’t have a career in sport.
“Sport should provide equal opportunities for all, regardless of your background, which religion you follow or what clothes you wear.
“It is very important for me that we get representation right at all levels, whether that is at grassroots or the elite level”.
Having worked closely with senior members at our organisation on several projects, FA Chair Debbie Hewitt said Yashmin ‘makes a substantial and meaningful difference to the FA, to football and to society in general’.
And Yashmin feels progress has been made in recent years, adding: “The conversation about South Asian representation within football is on the table now, a lot more than it maybe was before.
“There is a recognition there isn’t enough representation from that particular community and thanks to the likes of Debbie Hewitt, we are having conversations at an executive level to see what we can do as the FA to address that, working with other stakeholders and national governing bodies to see what impact we can have and what we can lead on.
“London FA are also making targeted programmes to try to increase representation within coaching and refereeing, so again the conversations are coming to the forefront now.”