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Cultural Diversity

‘Looking Beyond The Boundary’ Can Sport Redress The Balance?

This month, in our look at cultural diversity, Education Today hears from Ali Jaffer, founder of AJ Coaching, about the uniting effect of sport on young people. He is a sports teacher with a Masters in Performance Coaching for an independent school and a former professional cricketer for Karachi Whites in Pakistan. He is also currently the Captain of the Old Wimbledonians Cricket Club. The UK prides itself on its rich cultural heritage.

According to research done by think tank, Policy Exchange in 2014, ‘ethnic minorities will make up

Ali Jaffer

one third of the population by 2050’. There is already significant cultural diversity in modern Britain, as there is in other European societies but in recent times, the threat of terrorism coupled with the media focus on immigration has dented our belief that different races, religions and ethnicities can live together harmoniously. Can sport come to the rescue? At AJ Coaching

we believe that it can; not overnight and not without investment; but with a real commitment to develop ALL of our young people. Sport is the ultimate leveler; it has the power to transcend race, faith, fortune and gender. Every sport is a culture in itself, each with its own rules and rituals that remain constant regardless of where in the world it is played. Enjoyed or played by billions of people from myriad social backgrounds, it has an educational and socialising effect that makes it an ideal vehicle for intercultural dialogue and social integration. It is widely acknowledged that participation in

sport generally, and cricket specifically, has countless benefits beyond the sheer enjoyment of the game. As well as instilling important life skills, the experience of learning and playing cricket will engender qualities such as tolerance, respect and understanding. W.G.Grace once said cricket advances civilization by promoting a common bond; binding together people of vastly different


backgrounds and that is very much at the heart of our ethos. According to, cricket is the

second most popular sport in the world after football with between two and three billion fans across the world in India, Pakistan, Australia, England, South Africa, Sri Lanka, New Zealand, West Indies, Bangladesh and Zimbabwe making it possibly the most culturally diverse sport in the world. And yet, cricket in the UK seems to be in

decline. Last year the England and Wales Cricket Board released the findings of a survey of recreational cricketers. It revealed that the number of players aged between 14 and 65 dropped from 908,000 in 2013 to 844,000 last summer. The survey also showed a seven percent decline in cricket participation among children aged 14 and under. Falling participation at grassroots level can probably be partly explained by the absence of live cricket from our TV screens. England’s historic 2005 Ashes victory was the last to be shown on free-to-air TV. Now you need an expensive TV subscription to watch anything more than the highlights of England matches. Cricket is a game of immense skill and subtlety

that can be better understood with the insight and analysis of good commentators. If this is not freely available, then the role of tactics,

April 2015

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