London Sport Awards 2021 nominees: Volunteer of the Year - Adaeze Iheanacho
AFTER seeing children on street corners in her community in Southwark, mum of four Adaeze Iheanacho decided that enough was enough and they needed to get active.
Upon setting up what was originally ‘a joke’, Adaeze and a few other concerned residents realised what they had created was something to stay, and participation significantly increased.
Adaeze played a pivotal role in ensuring children in Southwark have a sense of purpose, ensuring an upbeat positive energy within their neighbourhood, Kingswood Estate, and navigated the Covid-19 pandemic perfectly.
She said: “It was during the lockdown period, which was a very difficult time.
“You’re looking at some boys hanging around, which wasn’t a very nice feeling because I feel they were wasting their time.
“So, getting them involved with that and getting them out of trouble was a very, very good thing. They were engaged in doing something.
“We did a [football] match, we won the first cup, the second one we came second and the third one we came second as well.”
“So that was very interesting, it was just a joke and it then turned into something else and I’m really proud of that.”
Over the last five years, the annual London Sport Awards, in association with the City of London Corporation, has grown to become the biggest celebration of grassroots and community physical activity and sport in the city.
And this year’s showpiece event will once again recognise, celebrate, and shine a light on the stories of the incredible individuals, groups, and organisations for their outstanding work across the capital helping Londoners of all ages and backgrounds to be physically active.
Adaeze has seen the group of children grow substantially in just two years, with her own children benefitting from the project too.
She added: “When we started in 2019, we had around a hundred and something kids, across all the age groups, we now have around 200 kids.
“I am a mum myself, I have three boys and a girl, I noticed that when they are indoors, they are just glued to the game, I was just tutting my head.
“I know that it’s not just my kids doing it, it’s every single one of them.
“Now they are out from 10-3, so within that time they are out, being active, and not just being glued to their screens, I think that was what made me happy, because they are not glued to those games anymore.
“I could see with my own kids, when we got home, they were tired!”
Adaeze’s continuous work is what has led to her being nominated for at the London Sport Awards which takes place at the Guildhall on 6 December.
She is not just a mother of four and an inspirational character in the community, she is also in full-time employment.
When asked how she can find the time to do everything, she said: “Honestly, I don’t know but the thing is, I’ve just kind of found a way to balance it out.
“It’s not an easy thing to do to be honest, because I have a full-time job, I am a full-time mum, I have to take care of my family as well.
“I have to take care of that and I have to make sure that whoever you take out, you bring back in one piece.”