Yorkshire has provided the world with many cricketing heroes, but few as awe-inspiring as Bradford College’s Jasmin Akter.
The 18-year-old was last night (4 December 2019) named Everything In Sport’s Unsung Hero in Women’s Sport 2019 - just weeks after being selected as one of BBC’s Most Influential Women of The Year Worldwide alongside Greta Thunberg, Alexandra Ocasio- Cortez and Megan Rapinoe.
The Unsung Heroine in Sport, for individuals behind the scenes who may not always get the praise deserved, is the latest in Jasmin’s long list of achievements.
Earlier this year Jasmin represented England in the Street Child Cricket World Cup and was selected alongside fellow Bradford College student Sabeha Salam for Yorkshire County Cricket Club’s girls’ team.
Her story is made all the more incredible by her background. She was born in a refugee camp in Bangladesh shortly after her father passed away and for almost a decade Jasmin lived in what she has described as “destitute poverty. I did not have access to education or my human rights.”
Members of Myanmar’s stateless Rohingya minority, Jasmin’s family was among many forced to flee across the border with Bangladesh. Her family was resettled to the UK when Jasmin was eight years old through the Gateway Resettlement programme, operated by the UN in partnership with the UK government.
In 2014, while visiting Bangladesh, Jasmin, her brother and her mother were involved in a car accident that left Jasmin’s mother paraplegic. While still 16 and in full-time education, Jasmin became one of her mother’s carers, along with her brothers and sister.
A talented footballer who has also played for Bradford City FC, Jasmin’s sporting promise was noticed at a young age, and she was recommended to apply for a Sporting scholarship in America. However, Jasmin decided to put her energies into caring for her mother as well as studying for her Level 3 Business Diploma at Bradford College.
But through the college’s enrichment activities, Jasmin was offered an outlet to continue cricket and football and was able to develop her amazing talents. Earlier this year she was chosen to play for her country in the Street Child Cricket World Cup. An event designed to raise awareness of youth homelessness worldwide, the competition brought together teams of teenagers from nine countries from across the globe. Jasmin was selected for Centrepoint Team England after she was spotted coaching youngsters through the Yorkshire Cricket Foundation’s Wicketz programme at the Karmand Community Centre in Bradford.
Last year she featured in the BBC Three documentary Bats, Balls and Bradford Girls which told the story of an all-Asian girls’ cricket team battling prejudices to play the game.
Jasmin has just returned from Miami where she was acting as a Young Leader for Street Child United, which uses the power of sport, especially international sporting events, to change the perception of street-connected children all over the world.
Jasmin was in impressive company at last night’s ceremony as she picked up an award alongside BBC sport producer Barbara Slater OBE, who received the Lifetime Achievement Award, and Alison Oliver, chief executive of the Youth Sport Trust, who received the Most Inspirational Woman in Sport Award 2019. Jeremy Wilson, Chief Sports Writer at the Telegraph, received the award for Education in Women’s Sport for educating all genders about the exciting and different form of sport in the Women’s game.
Enrichment engagement officer Chris Taylor was with Jasmin when she received her award last night. He said: “Jasmin has faced many challenges but has overcome adversity and still has a positive attitude. She is a fantastic role model for young women who is unafraid to mix it with the boys, challenge stereotypes and champion causes.
“2019 has been a game-changing year for women's sport, and the college and city should be proud of Jasmin securing her place in that legacy.”
Also celebrating at the ceremony with Jasmin was Dawn Leak, Vice Principal at Bradford College. She said: “We are extremely proud of Jasmin. She is a young woman who has broken down barriers and has shown people what can be achieved with talent, support and determination to succeed. On behalf of the College, I wholeheartedly congratulate Jasmin on her achievements. The past year has been an incredible one for her and we can’t wait to see what she achieves in her future.”
Everything in Sport (EIS) brings together sport executives and decision makers from around the world to meet, network and create business relationships, joining the sporting and corporate worlds to achieve and accomplish their goals over the course of an event.