OCS Young Sportsperson Awards 2014

Natasha Baker

Celebrating sporting success in true inclusive style at the OCS Young Sportsperson Awards 2014

Guest Post by Kay Allen OBE

Tuesday 25th November, I was invited to an event hosted at City Hall by OCS. This was an award that recognises emerging talent in our sporting world.

OCS Young Sports Person Award is more than just another sports award offering sports funding and bursaries to young sportspeople.

OCS take the opportunity to celebrate with customers and staff the fantastic achievements of these future sports stars.

The London 2012 Olympic games saw several OCS YSP Award winners successfully competing for Team GB, including the medal-winning gymnasts Sam Oldham, Louis Smith and Beth Tweddle.

Since the London Olympics, several previous winners of OCS YSP Awards have gone on to achieve international athletic success, including Non Stanford, who became the 2013 International Triathlon Union (ITU) World Triathlon Champion after the ITU meeting in London’s Hyde Park in September 2013.

The OCS Young Sportsperson Awards are run in partnership with Sports Aid the charity responsible for funding emerging sports talent in the UK and helping the next generation of British athletes succeed.

Since the awards began in 1998, OCS has made sports bursaries in excess of £500,000 to over 200 deserving young athletes.

Why was Really useful Stuff there?

These awards are truly inclusive and recognise all sporting talent. I went along because OCS values genuine achievement. I was impressed that this was not designed as an inspirational event focused on disabled people – but embraced the idea of an inclusive world.

But this event was not ‘Inspiration Porn’

Much has been written about ‘Inspirational Porn’ – this a phrase used by many disabled people who are just weary of being referred to as ‘inspirational’ just because they work or going shopping or go about their daily lives. Comedian Laurence Clarke has a hilarious show that exposes the nonsense of disabled people being referred to as ‘inspirational’.

Admiration of this sort is really just pity in disguise. The implication?

If I had a body like yours, I would hide myself at home all day. You must have huge reserves of courage, to bring this body out into public every day.

Australian journalist and comedian Stella Young, who has the genetic bone disorder (called “Osteogenesis Imperfecta” or OI), calls the misplaced admiration of disabled people because of our disabilities “inspiration porn.” In this TEDx talk, she does a terrific job of explaining how “inspiration porn,” like other kinds of porn, objectifies people.


However OCS gave awards out to a whole range of young people – some had a disability some did not. It was amazing to see the dedication, hours of training and sheer commitment by young people to their chosen sport.

No one disabled person was specially singled out as ‘inspirational’ just because of their disability. All the young people were fantastic.

I left the event feeling mighty proud of Team GB. Hugely impressed by families, coaches, charities and a whole host of back room people who work so hard to ensure grass roots sports is supported.

I must congratulate OCS – they chose an accessible venue, (no embarrassing stage moments) they had presenters in Gabby Logan whose sporting knowledge was impressive, along side sporting greats such as Ade Adapitan and David Gower. OCS is a company that is learning a lot about inclusivity.

My favourite moment of the night though was when the brilliant Natasha Baker came on stage with her very sparkly Glam Sticks – Naturally Glam Sticks are for sale on our Shop at Really Useful Stuff –  And a big shout out to Sharon Farley-Mason who also sponsors Mari Ackhurst a para-equestrian. Brilliant

Natasha Baker

Natasha Baker