Inspiring Young Readers

posted on 20 Oct 2023

Super Sports Stars Who Are Changing The Game by Rick Broadbent, illustrated by Alexander Mostov

Back in the 1970s and 1980s when I first became active in campaigns for social justice – especially in the Anti-Apartheid Movement – this was a book that it felt impossible to ever see published. Back then activists like myself were routinely lectured about the way sport had no place in politics and the suggestion that pressure could be brought to bear on the South African regime by boycotting or isolating their sports men and women, was labelled as damagingly illiberal.

Those of us that knew that sport has never in its history been separate from the political world – that politics has shaped so much of how sport is both played and watched – stuck to our guns and, albeit slowly, the tide changed in our favour.

Now, I’m delighted to say, the idea that sport has no place in politics seems as foolish a political slogan as there has ever been. It is commonplace for a host of sports stars to use their sporting fame and excellence to highlight what they see as ways of improving the society that has given them their celebrity status. Of course, we’re not talking here about Party politics but politics in its wider social sense – the fight for social justice, equality and equal opportunity.

And that’s exactly what this book celebrates:

“The twenty sportspeople in this book have not only done amazing things in their chosen sport, but also changed the world for the rest of us.”

Using both contemporary examples of social activists like Marcus Rashford or Megan Rapinoe and historical heroes like Muhammad Ali, author Rick Broadbent gives us a double page profile of their achievements, sporting and social. The punchy thumbnail sketches are enhanced by excellent graphics from Alexander Mostov, who brings each entry to life.

Amongst the twenty profiles are campaigners and activists for so many important causes – anti-poverty, gender equality, anti-ablism and disability rights, LGBTQ+ rights, freedom of speech and freedom from political oppression. It’s a massively impressive line-up.

Each profile gives us a cut-away to the key social issues each sportsperson has pioneered or campaigned around and then offers an activity for the reader to get involved in if they feel moved to do so. It’s easy to see how creatively this could be used in the classroom but, equally, there’s plenty here for discussion at home between children and parents who share a love for sport and might come initially to the book for that reason and stay to talk about the wider issues.

Following the sporting profiles the author gives the reader a bit of a challenge:

“So: you have read about Emma, Megan, Husnah, Tom Billy, Saeid and more. Incredible, aren’t they? Now it’s down to you.”

What, he asks, are YOUR super sport powers and gives some tips on ‘how to change the game.’

This is an engaging and creative way into the subject of activism and social change – we loved it here at the Letterpress Project.

Available now from Walker Books, you will be able to get this from your local independent bookshop – who will be happy to order it for you if they don’t have it on their shelves.


Terry Potter

October 2023