Chair of Sheffield Caribbean Sports Club in UK Named “Unsung Hero” by BBC

The chair of the Sheffield Caribbean Sports Club, Des Smith, was presented with the BBC Sports Personality Unsung Hero Award for 2023 on BBC One on December 19, 2023, at an awards ceremony in the United Kingdom. He received the award from England fast bowler James Anderson and the 2000 Olympic heptathlon champion, Dame Denise Lewis.

Surprised at winning

Commenting on his award, Smith, 70, called it a “bit surreal,” adding that he hoped the award would help the club in its pursuit of a new pavilion. Smith was described as the “driving force” behind the club, but in an interview with BBC Radio, he emphasized that the award was not just for him; it represents a recognition of all the people he worked with at the Caribbean Sports Club. He also noted that winning the award was a “totally new experience” for him and although he had written a short acceptance speech he never expected to win.

Smith’s acceptance speech

In his acceptance speech, Smith shared how his involvement with sports helped him to integrate into British culture when he emigrated to the UK from Jamaica in 1966 when he was just 13 years old. He noted that the club started because of the problems people like him faced in learning about a new culture and participating in local cricket teams, which were mostly run by white people. Smith’s life mission has been to support his community and to improve race relations through the Club. He also wants to educate the people of Sheffield and elsewhere about the significance of the Windrush Generation.

Founded as a youth club

The Sheffield Caribbean Sports Club was initially established in 1965 in Ecclesfield as a youth club. Many of the individuals, who are now in their 80s and who were present at its founding, are still involved with the club today. Smith said that many young people use the club now and that obtaining a new pavilion was critical as the existing one is “falling apart.” He said the organization needs a clubhouse that fits its purpose so that those young people can really enjoy themselves there. He noted that the community is actively engaged in making that happen, so he is hopeful about the project.

The BBC Unsung Hero Award

The award is given each year to the sportsperson who has made significant but unrecognized contributions to the field of sports. Sportspersons must be nominated by the public and must be actively involved in helping others participate in a sport on a voluntary basis. There have been 14 winners of the award since its inception, with four chosen for contributions to football, and the others for their activities with boxing, basketball, athletics, swimming, and Special Olympics.