A top campaigner for diversity in sport has called on British tennis to follow the example set by England’s multicultural cricket squad.
Writing in UK national newspaper The Independent, chairman of Stanmore Jafferys Racket Sports (SJRS) Abbas Merali claimed sport is “a unique force for social good.”
“The England cricket team has received as much recognition for its reflection of modern Britain as it did for its World Cup victory yesterday. On the pitch they defeated New Zealand, but off the pitch they disproved the ideas of those who want to see our national teams reflecting their racially pure fantasies,” he wrote.
White faces and large bank accounts
He contrasted that with the bias found in racket sports towards “white faces and large bank accounts … I know parents who have spent over a million pounds in nurturing their child’s sporting talent, with no guarantee of success.”
He heralded the Williams sisters as great role models in tennis, as well as Muslim footballer Mo Salah. Significantly, research by Stanford University found an 18.9 per cent drop in anti-Muslim hate crimes on Merseyside since he signed for Liverpool in 2017, he wrote.
Mr Merali added that “sportivism” is creating a fusion of sports people and activism that is having a huge effect on societies around the world.
Change is coming
After leaving his senior job in investment banking five years ago he became a social entrepreneur with a passion to get more children from diverse backgrounds into sport.
And he hailed the change that is coming – a superb example being the recent International SJRS Festival of Rackets, which drew 3,000 attendees and 640 players from different ethnicities. A third of the players were women and girls.
The event was backed by representatives from national associations like England Squash, Badminton England and the Lawn Tennis Association.
Read more about the Festival of Rackets here. [link]
Stars of tomorrow
But there remains much to do, Mr Merali wrote: “It is time British tennis learnt from the cricket world, and set out to discover the stars of tomorrow.”
Read the full article here