How are we still celebrating firsts – Michelle Yeoh’s Oscar win is a triumph but why has it taken so long for people of colour to gain recognition? 

95 years. That’s how long it took for a woman of Asian descent to win an Oscar for Best Actress.

Michelle Yeah accepts her Oscar for Best Actress

Sky Sports News Diversity and Inclusion reporter Miriam Walker-Khan and the UK’s only South Asian female Motorsport Marshall Sophia Bi discuss the uphill battle they faced as South Asian women in sports.

Over 20 years since the release of Bend It Like Beckham, South Asian women find themselves regarding film character Jesminder Bhamra as one of their only inspirations within British sports. 

Walker-Khan worked on a documentary discussing the success of the film while working at the BBC last year

The 29-year-old said: “It was a moment to reflect on why we still don’t have a role model and Jess is our role model and she’s a fictional character. 

“There’s been a few professional players (footballers) but nowhere near the amount there should’ve been.”

After 12 years as a sprinter in her youth and six years in the sports media industry, Walker-Khan is “confident” that the industry has not yet begun touching base with the real stories within the marginalised communities. 

She said: “I’m over doing pieces about the first black or brown athlete in a sport and I want to move the conversation past it and see why is it the case? 

“Why aren’t there more people of colour in a specific sport? What more can be done about racism in sport?” 

The former University of Manchester student emphasised the importance of having someone who is different if those stories are to be told.

In 2017 the National Council for the Training of Journalists’ Diversity carried out a search which showcased that ethnic minorities were significantly under-represented in the media – with 94% of journalists in the UK being white.

“I remember once being sat in a press conference,” she said.

“Yohan Blake was competing and everyone round the table was a 50 year old white man, which is ok but, Yohan Blake looked so bored.

“And I was like what can I ask him that is a bit different. So I asked him about Naruto. That’s why it is important to have someone who is a bit different.”

Bi, who works alongside Motorsport UK to break down barriers for diverse individuals, highlighted the importance of funding within the sport industry if there is going to be a difference made. 

Sophia Bi at London E-Prix 2021

The Manchunian said: “A lot of people from diverse backgrounds cannot afford to do unpaid work experience and more funding needs to be put within these roles.

“They cannot travel to the tracks, cannot afford the gear, boots and the orange overalls which usually cost around £80.”

The 27-year-old also talked about the struggle of pursuing a career within motorsport with the absence of support from those around her. 

“The stigma and stereotypes within the (South Asian) community itself,” she said.

“People sort of look down on you. You get married and become a housewife or you work to a certain degree of level and are expected to do certain things.”

Walker-Khan’s father is a Pakistani immigrant. 

With a close connection to her community she began Brown Girl Sport, an account which celebrates South Asian women in an array of sports.

She said: “We hear so much about South Asian women being the highest group of people who don’t do sport. But there are people who do and their stories are absolutely incredible. 

“I’ve been completely overwhelmed by the support and messages from South Asian women saying they really needed a space like that.”

Walker-Khan finished: “It’s really important if you’re in the industry you’re not closing the door behind you.”