Khawaja: Racism is a barrier to cultural diversity in Australian cricket

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Australia batsman Usman Khawaja has made renewed calls for administrators to address racism at all levels of cricket in the country.

Khawaja has spoken up against racism before and says that Australian cricket can do better to welcome people from different backgrounds into the game.

Racism driving talented players away from the game

The Australia international says that while the national team environment is inclusive, the problem starts at a grassroots level.

“The amount of times I heard, ‘They won’t pick you’, ‘You won’t fit in’ – if enough people keep saying that to you, you might start actually believing it,” Khawaja told cricket.com.au.

“The racism has been both overt and casual. But I had the confidence to speak up when something didn’t feel right, and I know not everyone does.

“Kids need to be given support, we need to talk openly and let them know that, ‘Hey, you’re not the only person going through this, we’ve been through this, we’ve seen this, we’ve dealt with it and we’ve pushed on. You can do the same thing’.

“I think that’s a really important message, because it can be demoralising when you feel left out or segregated. 

“Until you’ve been in that situation, you don’t know what it feels like. But if that’s your dream and your passion, then you should go for it. Because when you do come up through the ranks now, everyone – from Cricket Australia to the teammates you’ll have – they are all great people. They don’t give a crap who you are or where you come from.”

Khawaja says there has been progress

Khawaja has called out prejudice in his state team Queensland in the past but says progress is being made there and in other professional setups.

“It’s gotten a lot better … but that doesn’t mean we can’t keep improving, and it’s the same for everyone – it doesn’t matter who you are, it’s all about acceptance,” he said. “Whether you’re black, white, Asian, Caucasian. Whatever your sexuality may be. Whatever it is, at the end of the day it’s all about being respectful and tolerant to other people.

“That’s what it’s all about, and that’s what we’re trying to achieve.”

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