The sterling work done by Rugby Football League (RFL) Equality and Diversity Manager Sarah Williams has been recognised by the Queen in her Birthday Honours list. She has been awarded the MBE.
Since her appointment in November 2007, Sarah has helped Rugby League become the most proactive governing body in UK sport on issues such as race, sexuality, gender, disability, age and religion.
RFL Chief Executive Nigel Wood said:
“It gives me great pleasure to congratulate Sarah on this richly deserved award; it is terrific that her outstanding efforts have been acknowledged in this way.
“Rugby League has long prided itself as a sport that is open to all and Sarah has helped reinforce and enhance our reputation for tolerance, inclusivity and proactivity.”
Sarah Williams MBE said:
“This honour is a fantastic recognition, not just of the work I do but more of Rugby League and the way in which the sport has led the way in its approach to equality and diversity.
“I have only been a catalyst because we could not have made the strides we have without the support of the governing body, players, coaches, supporters, administrators, clubs and every section of the sport.
“I would like to take this opportunity to thank everyone for the way in which Rugby League has embraced the whole equality agenda and I look forward to doing what I can to keep the sport in the vanguard of this exciting journey.”
In 2010 the RFL became the first sports governing body to appear in the Stonewall Index at Number 169; the following year the RFL climbed to 93 and then last year reached Number 53 in the Stonewall Top 100, prompting Stonewall to praise the way in which Rugby League leads the way in tackling homophobia in sport by awarding the RFL the prestigious Stonewall Sports Award.
Sarah has worked tirelessly in a number of ground-breaking areas, including publishing research on the perception of Rugby League among young Asian Muslims; helping devise a coaching courses for BME players, women and disabled players; setting up the RFL Rainbow Forum, an online group open to all LGBT Staff, players, coaches, match officials club staff and volunteers; and produced information packs and guidance for clubs that enable them to effectively tackle homophobia.