- 14 inspiring local champions of grassroots sport from across the West Midlands make final list from hundreds of nominations
- Includes Solihull Moors Football Club Ability Counts coach, Kevin Redmond
- Boxer and former Birmingham Poet Laureate Matt Windle writes spoken word poem “Hometown Hero” inspired by their stories
- Announcement comes ahead of launch of volunteering applications on 1st June
Solihull football coach Kevin Redmond is one of 14 Hometown Heroes – inspiring local champions of community sport in the West Midlands – celebrated by the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games.
The campaign by Birmingham 2022 celebrates and recognises the diversity of the region by shining a spotlight on those that go above and beyond to develop sport, encourage participation and promote physical and mental wellbeing in their community.
After receiving hundreds of nominations from the public, the list of Hometown Heroes includes 14 selfless individuals, made up of coaches, managers, umpires, and fundraisers, who have dedicated their lives to grassroots sport in the West Midlands.
One of the Hometown Heroes recognised is Kevin Redmond – the coach of the Cerebral Palsy and Ability Counts team at Solihull Moors Football Club. Currently coaching the under-16 team, Kevin takes huge pride in boosting the confidence of his players, teaching them to strive for their goals, no matter the level they are at. He is often praised by parents for his personalised approach to training the players, who leave sessions with a huge smile on their face. One of Kevin’s proudest achievements has been coaching three players with Cerebral Palsy from a young age, watching them develop through the game, and is now mentoring them as they train to become coaches themselves.
Ability Counts is a PAN-disability football team which welcomes players with physical, sensory, and neurological impairment or disability and sign communicators.
On receiving this recognition, Kevin Redmond, Hometown Hero and coach of the Ability Counts team at Solihull Moors Football Club, said:
“It feels amazing to be a Hometown Hero! My aim has always been to create a welcoming and safe environment for the players in the Cerebral Palsy and Ability Counts team to thrive.
“I always put my players first, pushing them and encouraging them to have the confidence to take on challenges that come their way – both on and off the pitch. Receiving this recognition from Birmingham 2022 reminds me why I give so much of my time to support them - it’s all about seeing the players improve their skills and leave with a smile on their face.”
Solihull Council’s Cabinet Member for Leisure, Tourism and Sport, Cllr Joe Tildesley, said:
“I’d like to congratulate Kevin on this amazing achievement. Kevin – and many others like him – work tirelessly to help people grow and develop through their involvement in sport. I would also like to thank Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games for recognising some of the region’s unsung heroes and the role they all play in transforming lives through grassroots sport. We are really looking forward to next year’s Games which will inspire a generation. Building that legacy has already started.”
To celebrate their inclusion, each Hometown Hero will be profiled on Birmingham 2022’s website and social media channels over the coming weeks and will each receive a special glass award to mark their achievement.
The full list of Hometown Heroes consists of:
- Haseebah Abdullah, Coach at Windmill Boxing Team, Smethwick
- Naseem Akhtar BEM, Project Manager at Saheli Hub, Balsall Heath, Birmingham
- Salma Bi BEM, Coach, Umpire and Fundraiser, and Director of Sporting Pathways, Birmingham
- Jeevan Chagger, Chairman, Coach and Umpire at City of Birmingham Hockey Club, Birmingham
- Ricardo D’Alva, Coach at City of Birmingham Rockets Basketball Club, Nechells
- Kirsty Davie, Team Manager at Birmingham Moseley Women’s RFC, Birmingham
- Kevin Dillon, Head Coach at Lions Amateur Boxing Club, Brierley Hill
- Dave Heeley OBE, Runner and Charity Fundraiser, West Bromwich
- Joan Hunter, Coach at University of Birmingham Netball Club, Birmingham
- Steve Mroso, Coach and Team Manager at Team Birmingham Elite Basketball Club, Birmingham
- Yasmin Nessa, Co-founder of Saltley Stallions Women’s Football Club, Birmingham
- Kevin Redmond, Coach at Solihull Moors FC Ability Counts, Solihull
- Sarah Scanlon, Umpire at Ernesford Grange Netball Club, Coventry
- Ranjit Singh, Coach at Wolverhampton Wrestling Club, Wolverhampton
To mark the announcement, former Birmingham Poet Laureate and four-times Birmingham and Midland boxing champion Matt Windle has written and performed a spoken word poem, entitled Hometown Hero. The piece is inspired by the Hometown Heroes’ stories and reflects their drive and determination to support participation in grassroots sport in their communities.
Birmingham 2022 launched the search for Hometown Heroes in October 2020, welcoming nominations for those that always the extra mile to develop sport in their local community.
After receiving hundreds of nominations, the final list of Hometown Heroes was chosen by a judging panel consisting of Sarah Rennie, Chair of Birmingham 2022 Accessibility Advisory Forum; Ammo Talwar, Chair of UK Music Diversity Taskforce; Mike Chamberlain, Chief Executive of Sport Birmingham; Piero Zizzi, Founder of Proud Baggies and Abigail Shervington, Lead Community Engagement Manager at Birmingham 2022.
The announcement comes as applications to volunteer at Birmingham 2022 will open on 1st June 2021. 13,000 spirited, dedicated and dynamic volunteers are required to be the heartbeat of the Commonwealth Games, and will become a community of passionate people that help deliver the biggest sporting and cultural event the West Midlands has ever seen.
Volunteering at Birmingham 2022 is an opportunity to give something back, inspire a generation and be a part of something special - like the Hometown Heroes do every day. Ahead of applications going live, more information on the volunteer criteria, commitment required, the selection process and training programme can be found at www.birmingham2022.com/volunteering.
Matt Windle, professional boxer and former Birmingham Poet Laureate, said:
“I know how important it is to be surrounded by supportive people - those that will always have your best interests at heart - when it comes to training at a local club. A coach that champions the players will also be providing a place where people can come together, feel safe, build friendships, and gain an appreciation for healthy discipline. The Birmingham 2022 Hometown Heroes are the type of people that set up the pitch in the pouring rain or are a shoulder to cry on when you didn’t win your competition – and without these – grassroots sport just wouldn’t be the same. It was my absolute pleasure to dedicate a spoken word poem to these 14 individuals - they are fully deserving of this recognition.”
Ian Reid, CEO of Birmingham 2022, said:
“I’m in awe of our 14 Hometown Heroes. Their generosity to their club, whether that’s giving up their time or just being a listening ear, is inspiring. Birmingham 2022 promises to be the Games for Everyone, and whilst it’ll be an event that brings together the best athletes in the world, we are also aiming to inspire the next generation. Shining the spotlight on these devoted individuals will no doubt encourage participation in sport and physical activity across the West Midlands.”
Sarah Rennie, Hometown Heroes judge and Chair of Birmingham 2022 Accessibility Advisory Forum, said:
“It was my pleasure to be involved in the judging process for Hometown Heroes. After a difficult year, it was uplifting to read the nominations which demonstrated how one person’s dedication can enhance a community. These people put others first and deserve recognition for their selfless work, and in some cases, breaking down barriers placed in their own way.”
Solihull MP, Julian Knight said:
“I would like to congratulate Kevin on his recognition as a Hometown Hero by the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games. Grassroots sport wouldn’t be the same without people like Kevin who go above and beyond for our community.”
For more information on Hometown Heroes and to read the individual stories, please visit www.birmingham2022.com/HometownHeroes