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Local cricket clubs embrace diversity after Azeem Rafiq racism scandal

Most children dream of emulating their heroes, be it a full on action type Vin Diesel, Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson or Alicia Vikander.

For those who like kicking or spinning a ball around it might be Marcus Rashford, Ellen White or Joe Root, and some are talented and lucky enough to make it to the top of their sport. 

For former Yorkshire County Cricket Club player, Azeem Rafiq, his childhood dreams of playing for YCCC were soured by the recent allegations of racism currently being investigated by the England and Wales Cricket Board and the Department of Digital, Culture, Media and Sport. 

A number of South West London clubs have spoken of their shock at what allegedly happened at YCCC and detailed what they are doing to combat racism at grassroots and amateur levels. 

Chris Goldie, Chair of Richmond Cricket Club said: “What happened to Azeem Rafiq is shocking. We are a multi ethnic club and welcome players and staff from all walks of life.”

Goldie went on to explain that the south-east of the UK is a very different place to Yorkshire with a much more diverse demographic. 

Over at Battersea Ironsides Cricket Club, secretary Eric Ferebee said that the ECB’s Equality of Opportunity policy statement is enshrined within Battersea’s constitution. 

With 120 adult players and 230 juniors of a multiracial and integrated membership, the club’s management adheres to the provisions detailed in their constitution. 

Ferebee said “We understand the ECB met last week on the subject matter, and clubs and leagues are expecting to to be briefed and advised in the very near future.”

SCANDAL: The racism scandal of Yorkshire County Cricket Club comes from complaints made in 2018. Photo credit: Alfred Kenneally via Unsplash

Speaking to Barnes Cricket Club on the matter of racism, the committee issued the following statement: “Barnes Cricket Club prides itself on being a wholly inclusive club for everyone, regardless of age, gender, disability, race, ethnic origin, nationality, creed, colour, social status, sexual orientation, religion or other beliefs.

“The committee looks to ensure that everyone is made to feel welcome and an integral part of the Club and encourages a diverse range of people to get involved in the game of cricket.

“Recently reports have shed light on some shocking incidents of racism at all levels of the game across the country. 

“Discrimination of any kind on or off the field of play is intolerable in sport or indeed, society. Cricket must work together to eradicate it. 

“Barnes Cricket Club will be holding its Annual General Meeting on 12 December and will remind all members that the Club prides itself on inclusivity in its cricket. 

“We believe that cricket clubs at grassroots level, including our own, provide a fantastic place for people from all walks of life to meet, socialise and enjoy the game, regardless of anyone’s background or cricketing ability.”

As yet, the ECB are not answering calls to journalists but issued the following statement: “Azeem Rafiq has shone a light on our game that has shocked, shamed and saddened us all.

“Racism and discrimination is a blight on our game. 

“To Azeem and all those who have experienced any form of discrimination, we are truly sorry. Our sport did not welcome you, our game did not accept you as we should have done. 

“We apologise unreservedly for your suffering. We stand together against discrimination in all its forms, and are united as a sport to act. 

“We will continue to listen, and make swift, positive changes to the culture of the game. We will embrace and celebrate differences everywhere, knowing that with diversity, we are stronger.

“Today, as a game, we discussed a series of tangible commitments to make cricket a sport where everyone feels safe, and everyone feels included. 

“We will now finalise the detail and publish these actions next week. Our game must win back your trust.”

The ECB have not issued any guidance or initiatives to any of the clubs mentioned in this article. 

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