BASES’ Role Models initiative for underrepresented members


One of the key early priorities for the BASES Equity, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) Advisory Group was to provide members with a greater awareness of the diversity within the membership. Our Role Models initiative for underrepresented members will look to do just that. Specifically, we are looking to increase the visibility of underrepresented groups within BASES, which we hope will also help raise the aspirations of underrepresented BASES members, and be an opportunity to connect and to network.

Members can nominate Role Models who are either Professional, Graduate or Student members of BASES and from underrepresented groups (women, people with disabilities, people from minoritised ethnic groups within the UK , low-socioeconomic groups, and lesbian, gay, bisexual, queer, non-conforming and others people). Please note, you can remain anonymous, or be named, as a nominator.

BASES will promote our Role Models by recognising them on this dedicated Role Models webpage and through social media.

If you know of a BASES member that has inspired or empowered you, someone who you feel deserves recognition for the work they do and the support they provide to people, please nominate them as a BASES Role Model via this form. Nominations are welcome each month, with a deadline of the 28th of each month.


  • Any level within academia and industry can be nominated as a Role Model (e.g., BSc, MSc, PhD, academic)
  • All nominated Role Models will receive a recognition email and will be recognised across the BASES’ social channels
  • Selected Role Models will be invited to appear on the BASES’ Role Models webpage and The Sport and Exercise Scientist publication
  • Role Models will be encouraged to become part of the BASES mentoring programme (yet to be finalised)

This initiative aims to:

  • Increase visibility, and subsequently number, of underrepresented groups within BASES
  • Support the BASES mentoring programme, currently being finalised
  • Raise aspirations and achievements of underrepresented BASES members


  • Nominated Role Models need to be a Professional, Graduate or student member of BASES
  • Nominated Role Models must be from under-represented groups (based on Sport England definition this includes: women, people with disabilities, people from minoritised ethnic groups within the UK , low-socioeconomic groups, and lesbian, gay, bisexual, queer, non-conforming and others people)


  • Members of the BASES EDI Advisory Group will score nominations
  • 12 Role Models will be selected each year, aiming for at least one per month. (this is adjustable, depending on nominations received)
  • Those Role Models selected will be contacted by the EDI Advisory Group and asked to provide some information regarding the achievements they are most proud of, their career progression to date, who empowers them, who are their role models, and what advice they would you give to others embracing their journey in Sport and Exercise Sciences.
  • The Role Model profile will be included within the BASES’ Role Models’ Hall of Fame

Nomination process:

Please use the form here to make your nomination

Measures of success:

  • Increase in the number BASES’ members from underrepresented groups
  • Increase in the visibility of underrepresented BASES’ members through online platforms (e.g., BASES’ website and BASES’ social channels)
  • Increase in the number of underrepresented individuals on BASES’ standing committees and advisory groups
  • Growth in the number of underrepresented individuals on the BASES mentoring programme (to be finalised), who have also been identified in this initiative

Hall of Fame


Ali Mahoney

Accredited Sport & Exercise Scientist (Psychology)

ithinksport Ltd

Ali was nominated by Prof Brendan Cropley:

“Through her company iThinkSport, Ali has championed female and LGBT sport and physical activity. She has done this by helping to facilitate change in these contexts and thus start to address the issues associated with the prejudice, stigma, and vitriol directed towards females and LGBT individuals. Throughout this work, and her wider applied practice, Ali consistently lives her personal and professional values, using them to navigate her way through difficult and uncompromising situations and to demonstrate the care and compassion required to make positive change.

Ali has worked hard since becoming a BASES Accredited practitioner to break down barriers to sport participation and elite development, as well as challenge the stigma directed towards female and LGBT athletes and sport/physical activity participants. Her aim has also been, in a small part, to encourage LGBT people into the sport science field, and through her work she has really begun to help LGBT individuals to explore their opportunities and overcome a range of challenges that have been presented by traditional (inappropriate and unethical) values and rhetoric.”

What achievement are you most proud of?

My earliest achievement is still my proudest achievement. When I started the BASES accreditation process, I worked with a guy who was aiming to join the Parachute Regiment in the British Army. I remember having a big dose of impostor syndrome prior to our first meeting, but thankfully this didn’t last long.

I supported him with mental skills training to get through the brutal ‘P Company’ selection course. The best moment for me was receiving an email from him saying that he’d completed the course successfully and was now proudly wearing the Red Beret as a Para.

What is your career progression to-date?

My career progression in Sport Psychology has developed over quite a long period! It started with an MSc in Applied Sport & Exercise Science at the University of Wolverhampton in 2005 when I was working in their Athletic Union. I studied part-time in the evenings which was quite a challenge alongside a full-time job. That was my first introduction to Sport Psychology – I didn’t even know it was ‘a thing’ until then.

Fast forward 10 years and I did an MSc in Applied Sport Psychology at Cardiff Met University (2015). That was the course that steered me into my BASES accreditation and gave me the confidence to start my business, “ithinksport”.

Since becoming accredited I’ve worked with lots of different organisations including local clubs, right through to National Governing Bodies. I’ve also worked with individual athletes from grassroots to elite.

Who empowers you? Who are your role models?

There are so many to mention but these two people really stick out for me.

Prof Brendan Cropley was one of my lecturers and my BASES Supervisor; he guided, challenged, encouraged and supported me on my journey to becoming a practitioner. He gave me all the confidence I needed to start and continue with my accreditation journey.

Dr Nico Kolokythas, a friend and colleague, has been a role model to me throughout my journey. I’ve always been inspired by his thirst for knowledge, his attention to detail and his willingness to ask questions to challenge the status quo.

What advice would you give to others embracing their journey in Sport and Exercise Sciences?

Don’t be shy to ask for help! If you see someone doing the role that you want to do, reach out and ask for some advice. I’ve had quite a few emails from Sport Psych students asking different questions about how I got started, where they can find job opportunities, what qualifications they need etc.

If you’re just starting out in your chosen field, I’d suggest building a network of contacts who are already doing the work you’re interested in. LinkedIn is great for this, and is also a good way to see any job opportunities that might come up. Build a profile for free, add what opportunities you’re looking for and don’t be shy in direct messaging someone with your questions!


Dr Robert Mann

Postdoctoral Research Associate

Children's Health and Exercise Research Centre, University of Exeter

Rob was nominated by Associate Professor Alan Barker

“Rob has been a source of inspiration not only to me, but wider communities in academia. For context, Rob has a stammer, and this has caused him to face numerous challenges and barriers whilst forging a career in academia. Through working with Rob as his PhD supervisor and research collaborator, this has led me to evaluate my own work and practices in terms of how traditional forms of communicating in academia pose unfair barriers and can isolate people with a speech impediment. Through discussing with Rob his needs and preferences, this had led to innovative solutions for Rob to engage in academic activities. These positive changes have also filtered out more widely, such as at a discipline and institutional level, paving the way for a more formal pathway to provide students with alternative PhD examination arrangements. Rob has also co-authored a book chapter on this topic, where he has shared his experiences and will be a source of inspiration for readers.

Rob has faced many difficulties and challenges whilst developing his academic career; almost to the point where he has questioned if there is a ‘place’ for him in academia. However, Rob has shown tremendous courage and determination in overcoming these barriers, and this should be shared with the wider sport and exercise community. There is a clear lack of role models in academia who have a speech impediment. This platform will allow Rob to share his story. Furthermore, Rob also makes unique and wholesome contributions to academia that should be valued and acknowledged. For example, he is an advocate for developing early career researchers, and recently co-led a series of Twitter releases to promote early career research within our research group (@CHERC_UoE) and is on the editorial board of a leading journal.”

What achievement are you most proud of?

From a work perspective, passing my PhD viva remains the standout achievement. Being able to kickback against rigid (i.e., traditional) university systems about how a viva ought to be conducted was really empowering. An oral examination (viva voce translates as “with the living voice”) isn’t exactly ideal for a person who stammers!

From a non-work perspective, I will always be proud of dipping under 2hr 30min for the marathon. This happened in Berlin, as part of the same race that Eliud Kipchoge broke the world record – a solid day out.

What is your career progression to date?

I am currently a Postdoctoral Research Associate at the University of Exeter based in the Children’s Health and Exercise Research Centre (CHERC). My time is split across two separate projects related to: (1) digital physical activity promotion for young people with cystic fibrosis, and (2) supporting England Athletics to deliver the Youth Talent Programme and co-create an intervention to reduce the risk of injury in adolescent runners.

Getting to this point has included completing a BA (Hons) in Sport and Social Sciences at the University of Bath, followed by being awarded an Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) funded PhD studentship. This studentship included completing a Health and Wellbeing MRes programme before undertaking the PhD. I was based in CHERC during my MRes and PhD studies, with supervisors split between Exeter and Bath.

From October 2022, I will be undertaking an ESRC funded Postdoctoral Fellowship.

Who empowers you? Who are your role models?

Using “people who stammer” as a framework for listing off people who empower me, I tend to default towards those individuals who haven’t allowed their stammer to limit their ambition. This includes the many actors (e.g., Emily Blunt), musicians (e.g., Bill Withers), writers (e.g., David Mitchell), politicians (e.g., Joe Biden), and sports people (e.g., Kelly Brown) who have used their success and public profile as a platform to educate others about stammering. These role models have enabled me to learn how to embrace (and celebrate) my stammer.

What advice would you give to others embracing their journey in Sport and Exercise Sciences?

Embrace your points of difference, be compassionate, and reach out for help when you need it


Tatiana Madan

Undergraduate Student

BSc (Hons) Sport and Exercise Nutrition Student, Birmingham City University

Nominators comments: “Tatiana works hard and takes on opportunities to develop her knowledge in nutrition. She empowers me as a woman through her positive energy and work she has been involved in at such an early stage of her career. Her willingness to step outside her comfort zone and travel the world to help others is something I feel needs to be acknowledged. Tatiana is very kind and is always looking to improve herself and this recognition will help demonstrate that she needs to believe in herself more!”

What achievement are you most proud of?

Even though I have many achievements that I could mention, the one I am most proud of is the day I became a Sport and Exercise Nutrition student at Birmingham City University (BCU). It is the foundation for the rest of my accomplishments achieved so far. It is the starting point of loving what I do and having a vision of where I want to get. It might not seem like a significant accomplishment for others, but it is an excellent achievement for a young girl who came from another country in her early 20s and had to overcome all her fears.

What is your career progression to date?

I am in the final year of my course, and I am trying to take advantage of every opportunity to gain experience and develop a sense of the career path I want to follow. Therefore, I had two placements—one short-term placement based in the UK in 2021 and one 3-month placement in Sri Lanka in 2022. I worked with 11-16 years old students that play different sports. My main goal was to ensure that they understood the significance of nutrition for improved performance.

Additionally, I spent more than three years working as a fitness instructor at three Leisure Centres across Birmingham. I have been studying extra courses to learn more and broaden my knowledge on various subjects, including mental health and nutrition, nutrition, and the human microbiome. With this knowledge and experience I receive now, I will be able to advance my career after graduation.

Who empowers you? Who are your role models?

I have many role models and people I look up to. However, my BCU professors have been particularly influential. Their commitment, effort, and enthusiasm for their work inspire me every day and push me to grow further.

What advice would you give to others embracing their journey in Sport and Exercise Sciences?

Make sure you love it and have a connection with this side of the science. It is not as easy as many people think, but you can overcome any struggle when you love it. You will learn many exciting things at university, but you must know that the knowledge you get there will not be sufficient to make you exceptional. Have placements, communicate with other students, go to workshops, and do everything that can give you an understanding of who you want to become. It is ok to make mistakes. They only make you stronger. It is ok not to feel confident every day. When you feel less secure, do not let others, especially yourself, deviate you from your path. Always have a vision of what you want your career to look like. It is ok to change your vision until you know what you want.


Dr Ayaz Safi

Course Leader for MSc Sport and Exercise Nutrition, School of Life Sciences, University of Westminster

Nominators comments: “I was taught by Dr Safi during my undergraduate while he was completing his PhD. As undergraduate students, we always felt comfortable approaching him, often bridging the gap between us and other staff much more senior than him. He always took the time and interest to get to know us individually, many students would go to him for advice about sports or coaching. Through learning about his journey and PhD research, many students did not feel intimidated by postgraduate studies, instead many of us went on to complete PGCEs or postgraduate studies as a result. He has such a passion for his research both in and outside of his community, from his PhD where he focused on workplace facilitators and barriers of physical activity to raising awareness around exercise and health during Ramadan. While completing his PhD he inspired many students from underrepresented backgrounds, and I am sure in his role as Lecturer and Course Leader for MSc Sport and Exercise Nutrition he continues to do so.”

What achievement are you most proud of?

Being from an ethnic minority community, I am most proud of my academic achievements and career in academia. This allows me to educate people and continue researching. My academic achievements and career also allow me to inspire and motivate students nationally and internationally, helping them become the leaders and practitioners of tomorrow.

What is your career progression to date?

From working as a multi-sport coach, being founder and director of Safi’s Sport & Fitness and Anywhere Active, worked in a secondary school as a head of PE department, then working at university as an assistant lecturer has all helped me becoming a lecturer and MSc Sport & Exercise Nutrition course leader, deputy course leader for Essential of Nutrition, and School Ethics Co-ordinator at Life Science at University of Westminster in London.

Who empowers you? Who are your role models?

The empowerment of education has come from my elder brother Zia Safi who provided me the support and all the necessities to continue with my education. In sporting world, I admired and looked up to Muhammed Ali and in academy my favourite role model is Professor Tony Myers from Newman University. In addition, Dr Irfan Khawaja a senior lecturer and course leader at Birmingham City University has been a positive influence and a role model to me.

What advice would you give to others embracing their journey in Sport and Exercise Sciences?

I think that Sport and Exercise Science is possibly the most diverse, joyful, and rewarding field out there, it opens various opportunities in terms of careers, working with athletes, grassroot, public health and the daily life of sport and exercise scientist is never the same whether that’s in academy, researching, working in laboratory or on the field. Also, every task at hand, either during studying or working, may have some unexpected inconveniences, so don’t lose hope, and to be successful, you have to take challenges and work outside of your comfort zone. Every sport and exercise scientist must remember that your contribution to the community is greatly appreciated, and the future of the NHS relies on you.


Dr Mustafa Sarkar

Associate Professor of Sport and Performance Psychology

Nottingham Trent University

Nominators comments: “Mustafa has emerged as one of the leading figures in sport and performance psychology with a string of excellent published papers alongside appearances on podcasts, panels and providing a number of comment pieces. In addition, Mustafa supports the work of BASES through his membership on the Psychology group and recently hosted the Psychology division day.

Although I do not know Mustafa personally it is clear that he is able to not only produce academic work of a high level but also translate this for the consumption of wider audiences. I think Mustafa serves as a role model in terms of his selfless contribution to the field and also the support he provides to his governing body (BASES).”

What achievement are you most proud of?

I think my first peer-reviewed journal publication because it was three years in the making (from writing the first draft to eventual publication). It was rejected by three (mainstream psychology) journals before getting in, but it is now my most cited publication. Alongside that, I’m proud that my work is having an impact outside of academia. One of my overarching philosophies is not doing research for the sake of doing research but doing research that can have an impact in practice. So, I’m proud of being asked to work closely with sport and business organisations on creating environments develop resilience.

What is your career progression to-date?

After working for PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) during my gap year, I went to Loughborough University to study Sport and Exercise Science and graduated in 2008 with a first-class honours degree. I went on to complete a Postgraduate Diploma in Psychology (with distinction) from Middlesex University. In 2009, I returned to Loughborough University and gained a distinction on the MSc Psychology of Sport and Exercise programme. Following this, in 2014, I gained my PhD which investigated the assessment of psychological resilience in sport performers. I subsequently served a post-doctoral role at the University of Gloucestershire as a Research Fellow in Sport, Exercise and Wellbeing working within the School of Sport and Exercise. I then took up a permanent Lectureship position at Nottingham Trent University (NTU) in 2015 in the Department of Sport Science. I was promoted to Senior Lecturer in 2017 and then Associate Professor in 2020.

Who empowers you? Who are your role models?

One of my role models is Professor Dan Gould. I’ve been fortunate to get to know Dan over the last few years and most recently, work with him on an IOC-funded research project that we are leading at NTU. He conducts brilliant, applied research and works at the forefront of bridging the gap between research and practice. Most importantly though, as an eminent Professor in the field, he is kind and generous with his time especially with early career researchers and practitioners and that is something I hope to be able to emulate as I progress in my career.

What advice would you give to others embracing their journey in Sport and Exercise Sciences?

Be proactive in your personal and professional development, focus on what you can control (e.g., processes rather than outcomes), view setbacks as an opportunity for mastery and growth, and take specific steps to obtain the support you need (e.g., a good mentor or supervisor). I’ve always liked the Japanese concept of ‘Ikigai’ (your reason for ‘being); although not always easy to put into practice with internal and external pressures, take your time to find the balance of, and intersection between, what you love, what you are good at, what the world needs, and what you can be paid for. Lastly, always be kind and compassionate to others (especially early career researchers and practitioners) and try to ‘give back’ to others and the field as a whole when others/the field has given to you.


BASES stands for the British Association of Sport and Exercise Sciences. BASES is the professional body for sport and exercise sciences in the UK.

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