St George’s Day celebration hosted by council for Team England in Birmingham
A giant St George flag, adorning the side of Birmingham’s Town Hall building and measuring 52.25m wide by 8.2m high, was the centrepiece of a special celebration staged in the city today (April 23).
Community groups, Team England athletes and representatives of Birmingham City Council came together for the St George’s Day event in the heart of the city centre.
It was organised by the city council in recognition of England’s national day, in the year that Birmingham is the Proud Host City for the 2022 Commonwealth Games.
Those in attendance included groups that have received funding from the council via its Celebrating Communities scheme – a £2million project which is supporting organisations in all 69 of the city’s wards to help people embrace the Games coming to the city.
They, along with passing members of the public, had an opportunity to chat about the growing excitement for the Games with Team England athletes including world champion gymnast Joe Fraser, high jumper Laura Zialor, judokas Kelly Petersen-Pollard and Dan Powell, boxer Delicious Orie and wheelchair basketball player Siobhan Fitzpatrick.
Also on hand were elected members from the city council, officers helping deliver the Games and Lord Mayor of Birmingham, Cllr Muhammad Afzal.
Boxer Delicious Orie said: “It is fantastic to be here with Team England celebrating St. George’s Day.
“The West Midlands has been my home since I was a young child, so I was incredibly proud to become a British citizen last year. The thought of not being eligible this year to represent my country in competition, especially with Birmingham 2022 on the competition calendar, was heart-breaking.
“My goal is to be a part of big sporting events in Birmingham over the next decade, so to get the opportunity at this stage of my career to fight in front of a home crowd in the Commonwealth Games is a dream come true. I promise the NEC will be rocking from the moment that first bell rings!”
Judoka Kelly Petersen-Pollard added: “It is amazing to be here with Team England celebrating St George’s Day in my hometown. It’s been a dream for so many years, so to be a part of the celebrations and to be here today makes me incredibly proud to be English and to get this far.
“I cannot wait to hopefully represent my country in front of my family, my boyfriend and my friends at home at the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games.”
The Celebrating Communities groups that attended the event included Ashanti Netball (North Edgbaston ward), which is using its funding from the council to deliver a series of netball sessions for the community.
Sharlene King, Manager of Ashanti Netball Club, said: “There is a lot of excitement in Birmingham with the Commonwealth Games coming. We are so excited about being involved in these types of events that are leading up to the Games. We want to represent our city through the sport that we love and encourage more people to be involved as netball continues to rise.”
Also present was Sikh Nari Manch UK (Stockland Green ward), which is using its funding to stage a series of sessions that will raise awareness of the Commonwealth Games to embrace diversity and unity between the different countries and communities.
Satpal Singh, Manager of Sikh Nari Manch UK, added: “We are very humble and thankful that we have been successful in getting some funding to put on a project to celebrate the Commonwealth. We will have an opportunity to educate and celebrate the rich history of the Commonwealth with the local community and we are so looking forward to it.”
Deborah Cadman, Chief Executive of Birmingham City Council, said: “Given we are the Proud Host City for the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games, this is a special St George’s Day – so we wanted to do something to show our support for the athletes that hope to be competing for the Proud Host Nation of England.
“I am delighted we were able to welcome community groups from across the city to the event. These Games are all about bringing people together and they are about people each and every neighbourhood and street of Birmingham.
“Whether you live or work near one of the competition venues or not, these Games are for us all and as we get ever closer to the biggest event in our city’s history, you can sense the interest and enthusiasm is increasing on a daily basis.”
Notes to editors
As well as Ashanti Netball and Sikh Nari Manch UK, the other Celebrating Communities groups that attended the event were:
Changing Lives Through Rugby (Erdington ward) – Delivering community sports days to local families during the school holidays.
David Owen, a volunteer at Changing Lives Through Rugby, said: “The Games coming to Birmingham is something that will only happen once in my lifetime – which means it is also a once in a lifetime chance to showcase the power of grassroots sport.”
Friends of George’s Park (Lozells ward) – Enabling residents to access free, sustainable sports equipment which will be securely housed at George’s Park. New signage will be installed and a website created.
Afzal Goni, Treasurer at the Friends of George’s Park, said: “Most of the community in the area of George’s Park have roots in Commonwealth countries, we are very proud and excited that our city is hosting the Games this year. We can’t wait for the Games to begin and are really looking forward to all the excitement this summer!’”
Impact Fitness Academy (Lozells ward) – Delivering a project called ‘Wrestling to the Commonwealth Games’, a wrestling and mixed-martial arts training and development programme with a focus on children, young people and families from minority ethnic communities.
Mohammed Farid, head coach for IFA, said: “We are so excited to be involved with this event. We are very pleased that Birmingham’s rich heritage is being recognised and its diverse communities are encouraged to participate. I’m so happy the Commonwealth Games are being hosted here in Birmingham and it means I don’t have to travel far with my students to show them the level they can achieve as wrestlers.”
Khawateen Creative Minds (Tyseley and Hay Mills ward) – Delivering a series of events that include litter picking with residents to improve the park environment, planters, clean paint and also work to improve the aesthetic with Commonwealth Games national colours. The group will also hold three Commonwealth Games local picnic events to celebrate the events.
Mah Jabeen Bano, Khawateen Creative Minds chairman, said: “We are the host people of Birmingham. We are excited and trying to act as a responsible people in the area of Tyseley and Hay Mills. Since last year, KCM improved six local green spaces on the A45 to make it welcoming for the tourists we will receive this summer.”
Misfits Music Foundation (Moseley ward) – Delivering a project called ‘Active Leaders’ in which a programme of music-focussed games and events will be staged.