From sporting lunches to diversity forums to Question Time at Westminster with then sports minister Helen Grant and shadow Clive Efford, the SJA is always looking for ways to engage, entertain and inform our members.
The 2016 SJA diversity forum was declared a huge success thanks to a high-class panel including The Voice sports editor Rodney Hinds, broadcaster Ronald McIntosh, joined by Channel 4 News presenters Keme Nzerem, Baroness Grey-Thompson and Karthi Gnanasegaram.
Over the years we have been delighted and privileged to host headline-making guests such as the man reckoned by Sports Illustrated to be one of the most powerful in international sport, Roger Goodell, the NFL Commissioner.
Boxer George Groves proved to be an entertaining and out-spoken guest as he talked about filling Wembley and how he would beat Carl Froch.
Then there was Sir Dave Brailsford, then in charge of Britain’s cycling revolution and now boss at Team Sky, rugby’s Rob Andrew and Rob Howley, England cricket’s Alec Stewart, Scottish football’s Terry Butcher, former British swimming martinet Bill Sweetenham, and then British Olympic Association chairman Lord Moynihan.
We have also welcomed great champions such as Olympic sailor Sir Ben Ainslie, double gold medal-winner Rebecca Adlington, three-day eventer Mary King, and the all-time great of world darts, Phil Taylor as well as boxer George Groves, cricket’s Michael Vaughan and rugby’s Sean Fitzpatrick.
The aim is always to provide our members with access to leading sports figures in a relaxed, working atmosphere, with no pre-ordained agenda – just good, hard copy on the menu.
It was at an SJA lunch that Brailsford announced his plan for a British Tour de France team, a scheme which ultimately led to Bradley Wiggins and Chris Froome winning the great race. Moynihan grabbed the back pages when he announced that he wanted Sir Alex Ferguson to manage the GB Olympic football team.
Sweetenham tipped us off that Adlington would win Olympic gold, 18 months ahead of the Beijing Games. Taylor told us how he wished he looked more like David Beckham.
Goodell spoke about longer term plans to consider an NFL franchise for London. And as well as talking about Wales and British Lions rugby, Howley also gave us £1,000-worth of big match tickets for one of our lucky lunch attendees.
At his lunch ahead of the 2012 London Olympics, Lord Moynihan kept a packed room of more than 30 SJA members and guests in his thrall for more than an hour, and then for a good period in the bar afterwards.
Check the SJA’s website here for announcements.