Image courtesy of: Zimbio
Australia batsman Usman Khawaja has revealed that he was deterred from supporting Australia as a child as he was racially abused.
Khawaja, who is the first Pakistani-born player to represent Australia, added that he was “sledged about his heritage”.
“Getting sledged by opposition players and their parents was the norm,” Khawaja wrote on the Players Voice website. “Some of them said it just quietly enough for only me to hear. It still hurt, but I would never show it.”
Growing up as a child, Khawaja revealed that he was taught how to respect everyone on the field, but he conceded that it seemed to be a different case when he watched the Australian team play.
“I was brought up to be respectful, humble and polite. But when I watched the Aussie team, I saw men who were hard-nosed, confident, almost brutish,” he wrote. “The same type of men who would sledge me about my heritage growing up.
“It is for this reason why so many of my friends, most of whom were born outside Australia, didn’t support Australia in sporting contests. I didn’t either.”
While he was subjected to racial abuse during his younger years, Khawaja believes the situation is improving as more players from various backgrounds, ethnicities and faiths are playing cricket in Australia.
“Australian cricket is slowly changing and will finally have a chance to reflect what Australia really is – an international team truly representative of its richly diverse population,” he wrote.