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Fergus pitches in on TV for racial diversity in snowsports

By Tom Ramage

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Kingussie High School skier Fergus Sherlock has been making his pitch for racial diversity in the UK, with the help of the BBC.

The gifted young sportsman featured in a special for Ski Sunday put together by Phil Young, also joining Aviemore board ace Lesley McKenna to discuss the highly topical subject.

The show is on the BBC website and iPlayer.

Young, renowned for his Channel 4 programme Board Stupid, which highlighted the snowboarding boom, told Fergus: “I’m expecting massive things from you in the future, my friend. Are we going to see you on the Scottish national team?”

‘I’m going to carry on doing what I’m doing, because I love skiing.

So maybe, maybe one day.’

'Maybe one day...' Fergus Sherlock's talents could take him to international level in the sport he loves
'Maybe one day...' Fergus Sherlock's talents could take him to international level in the sport he loves

Young is passionate about diversity and asked why some ethnic groups are so under-represented in the ski and snowboard industry - and what is being done to encourage people from BAME backgrounds to participate.

"On paper the chances of a mixed-race child of the 1970s getting involved in the snowsports scene are pretty slim. I was born in Enfield in north London and spent my youth in a nondescript suburb where sliding down the hill behind the squash courts on a plastic bread crate was the closest I got to winter sports.

"Then when I was a teenager, my grandparents decided to go skiing in Italy and I would be going with them. It was the first and only time they indulged in this type of behaviour but it served to ignite a fire in me that has only burnt brighter over the years.

"I experienced for the first time something I had only seen in photographic books.

"I remember crying on the way home from the resort of Macugnaga in the Alps thinking I wouldn’t get to experience it again. I was blown away by the size and beauty of it all, the speed of flying down a slope only half in control excited and amazed me in equal measure.

"Thankfully, I have been given the opportunity to go back to the mountains on numerous occasions since my first visit, transitioning to snowboarding when it emerged in the late 1980s, fully immersing myself in the wonderful, friendly, often loose scene that has grown up around it."

Fergus, a bi-racial 14-year-old, was born in the Kingdom of Eswatini, a former British Protectorate once known as Swaziland.

He loves everything about skiing and this winter had the opportunity to go pretty much every day, often hiking two or three hours to get his fix of powder turns.

Fergus Sherlock
Fergus Sherlock

"Whether he realises his dreams of one day skiing for Scotland to my mind is irrelevant, what matters is that he has a dream to chase in the first instance," said Young.

"What is important is that he can see a place for himself in the landscape, unapologetically carving a space for himself in the natural environment.

"He has been protected by an amazing family and local community away from racism. There is an innocence about him that I fear will sadly one day be broken when he leaves the security of his small village..."

How was the sport to get other young people involved so that they foun the passion that Fergus had?

Aviemore legend Lesley McKenna told him: “I think we’re doing the first steps here right now. It’s letting people like Fergus explain what it’s like for him to be involved in snowsports and hopefully people like Fergus who live in other parts of the UK might be able to see him and go ‘I want a bit of that!’..."

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