Adekanmi is a community sport enthusiast, football coach and a social justice advocate, using the medium of sport to integrate migrants within ethnic minority communities and to integrate migrants with the local communities to promote inter-cultural society in Northern Ireland. As an agent of change, he volunteers in the community – trying to lobby the government to reduce racial inequalities in sports. He organised the first ethnic minority sport leadership summit in 2019 as an annual event where topical issues that affect the sport needs of migrants are to be discussed and the 2019 summit report presently serves as a reference for policy makers when making provisions for ethnic minority sport development in Northern Ireland.
Before the pandemic, he had organised different sporting activities to integrate diverse communities and to increase participation in sport with the aim of diversifying the face of sport and promoting inclusion in Northern Ireland. He is the voice of the voiceless, megaphoning the views of his community to partner with the government in progress. His contributions to sport development and social justice – earned him the opportunity to represent the BAME community on the board of Northern Ireland Sport and Human Rights Forum. He also sits on the board of Northern Ireland Walking Football Federation, representing BAME senior citizens to encourage participation and ensured that their interest is reflected in the first Northern Ireland Walking Football Development Strategy 2019/2021.
As an asylum seeker with three children, he did not allow the challenges that come with asylum seeking and the Covid-19 pandemic to stop him from volunteering and representing his community to influence change. During the pandemic, he shuttles between Belfast – Londonderry (Derry) – Lisburn to support his community. He was in Londonderry (Derry) in September 2020 to represent his community at an event organised by North West Migrant Forum where he presented a paper on “The Effect of Common Travel Area on BME Participation in Sports” and this was reported by the Irish News in its publication on the 1st of October 2020. He also travelled to Londonderry (Derry) in July 2020 to meet with some senior civil servants from the NI Executive Office for a strategic meeting to audit the implementation of the Racial Equality Strategy that was published in 2015 as a framework to tackle racial inequalities and to open opportunities for all. He is the first person to highlight how Covid-19 is pushing asylum seekers further into abject poverty in his article published by the Irish News on 27th April 2020. This article made many funding organisations and government to respond quickly to the needs of the people, especially the asylum seekers, refugees, and other low-income earners. He also wrote another article which was published on 27th May 2020 by the Irish News where he articulated the challenges of children of asylum seekers on home learning, highlighted the idea of remote learning as the preserve of the few because many asylum seekers could not afford IT equipment for their children to join classes online. He has been able to use his numerous articles to convey the aspirations of his community to the government for actions and it is working for the community because we could see how government is responding quickly to solve IT and food poverty in our community. He does not only contribute intellectually, but he is also there to support in raising funds and delivery of services and essentials. He led the distribution of essentials to 350 sportspersons and signposted more than 200 people to opportunities in different sizes and shapes during the pandemic. He also organised community workshops on different subject matters ranging from mental health, resilience, wellbeing to capacity building. He worked tirelessly during the pandemic to seal a partnership deal with Rio Ferdinand Foundation and that partnership is currently being funded by BBC Children in Need to create pathways for the future of young people in Belfast whose life chances have been affected by the Covid-19 pandemic. He also led a group of young vibrant volunteers to a meeting with the Northern Ireland Minister for Communities (Deirdre Hargey) in January 2021 on how to create more opportunities for migrants, especially the refugees, by breaking some institutional barriers. He believes so much in the value of volunteering. To him, without volunteers – it will be difficult to drive change in the community. I will be over the moon if he wins this award as he truly deserves it for his dedication.