Published Wednesday, 19 May 2021
Coventry netball umpire Sarah Scanlon 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 who 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 Sarah Scanlon, who is the umpire and chair of Ernesford Grange Netball Club in Coventry.
During her 10 years at the club, Sarah has increased the number of teams from four to six and increased membership to over 60 members. She also developed a hardship fund to support senior and junior members to continue playing if they are in financial difficulties and has also arranged fundraising events.
Six years ago, Sarah was diagnosed with cancer. She underwent numerous operations and chemotherapy and was initially given the all clear, until last year when it was discovered the cancer had returned. Sarah has continued to fight the cancer with everything she has and has not let it stop her from leading the netball club with positivity and determination. Without Sarah, the club simply wouldn’t function.
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.
Sarah said: "“It feels amazing to be a Hometown Hero! I’ve covered a lot of roles during my time at the club – I’ve played in the A team, been an umpire, treasurer, chairperson, and I sit on league committee too. I’ve always been committed to netball.
“I’m flattered to receive this recognition from Birmingham 2022. For me, it’s about ensuring players have the opportunity to exercise in a social setting, but also a chance to improve their skillset. I will continue to give my time to the club and bring my positivity and passion to each session.”
Councillor Kamran Caan, Cabinet Member Public Health and Sport, said: "A huge congratulations to Sarah for being selected as Coventry's Hometown Hero.
"Sarah's story is extremely touching. She has achieved so much over the years for her netball club while dealing with her own personal battles. She is an absolute inspiration and deserves recognition as a Birmingham 2022, Commonwealth Games Hometown Hero.
"Without people like Sarah, grassroots sport wouldn't be as successful as it is. Congratulations again."
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.
The announcement comes as applications to volunteer at Birmingham 2022 will open on 1 June. 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.
More information on the volunteer criteria, commitment required, the selection process and training programme can be found at www.birmingham2022.com/volunteering.