It’s time for change at the top, says Tanni


theweeksubBritain’s best-known Paralympian has called for more disabled people to be involved in running national disability sports organisations.

Baroness [Tanni] Grey-Thompson, winner of 11 Paralympic gold medals, called for action after a Disability News Service (DNS) survey revealed that most of the UK’s leading disability sports organisations were controlled by non-disabled trustees and directors.

The survey of 10 of the most influential organisations in disability sport was carried out after the British Paralympic Association (BPA) admitted to DNS that it only had one disabled person on its board of nine directors.

The survey found that disabled people made up 30 per cent or less of the board in six of the 10 organisations, while three had just one disabled board member.

Baroness Grey-Thompson, a BPA patron and now an increasingly-influential crossbench peer, said on Twitter this week – in response to the survey – that the control of disability sport by disabled people had been “declining for years”.

She also suggested that there were too few disabled people in paid employment with “elite” disability sports organisations, and too few disabled coaches, adding: “There has to be more coaches…. more opportunities.”

Last week, Richard Saunders, who chairs the British Amputee and Les Autres Sports Association (BALASA), said he would challenge BPA’s failure to have a more representative board, at its annual general meeting (agm) in November.

A BPA spokeswoman said the organisation supported the views of Baroness Grey-Thompson “as an overall ambition, just as we would support greater visibility and integration for disabled people in a range of fields”.

But she added: “Equally, appointments to any position should be made based on skill set, experience and various other appropriate qualities, not just on disability.”

She said that all BPA’s members could raise issues at the agm, and Saunders was “fully aware” of the “composition and process for determining the membership of the BPA board”.

She added: “As the representative of a member body of the BPA, Richard was also fully entitled to stand for election this year, or to nominate a candidate – which he did not do in either case.”

She said BPA was unable to comment on the number of disabled people on the boards of other disability sports organisations.

15 August 2013