The England and Wales Cricket Board has partnered up with Nujum Sports to help improve Muslim inclusion in the sport.
Nujum Sports, which was formed in 2020, has helped to advise the ECB during the last year but has now agreed a formal partnership.
It occurs at a time when the governing body remains in the spotlight for its failure to act when Azeem Rafiq first made his racism allegations against Yorkshire almost two years ago.
A subsequent 12-point action plan to improve inclusion at all levels was eventually unveiled by the ECB in November, but only after Rafiq had appeared in front of a parliamentary panel and laid bare the full scale of the problem cricket was facing with discrimination more than a year after his initial claims had gone public.
This link with Nujum Sports is aimed at helping ensure the needs of Muslim players are focused on from grassroots level all the way to the top of the elite game.
“Nujum Sports and the ECB are today pleased to announce a formal partnership which will develop and guide Muslim inclusion in cricket, through training, education and practical guidance,” a statement read.
“Nujum has spent the last year advising the ECB, providing guidance and direction on the specific support that is required for Muslim cricketers throughout the year.
Cricket commits to action plan to tackle racism and all forms of discrimination.
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— England and Wales Cricket Board (@ECB_cricket) November 26, 2021
“Nujum Sports and the ECB’s partnership will provide a direct focus on the needs of Muslim players and communities, from the grassroots game through to elite cricket.”
England all-rounder Moeen Ali is an ambassador for Nujum Sports and hopes this partnership can contribute towards Muslim athletes being given the support they need.
It was Nujum Sports who launched the Muslim Athlete Charter last year, which was designed to encourage participation by urging organisations to improve the ways in which they can recognise and provide assistance for Muslim athletes, especially during occasions like Ramadan.
Moeen said: “Throughout my time in this beautiful sport I have witnessed the highs and lows, without my faith it would have been a great struggle.
“It’s time we recognise the value of allowing Muslim cricketers to be who they are and allow them to come together in this family with a feeling of trust and confidence.”
Kate Miller, the ECB’s chief diversity and communications officer, reiterated the governing body remains committed to ensuring the sport is a game for all.
Rafiq’s claims against Yorkshire sparked a wave of other allegations of racism with Essex and Leicestershire starting investigations into historical cases while Cricket Scotland has a review ongoing into racist abuse.
Miller added: “Over the last year, Nujum Sports has assisted the ECB, particularly in preparing for Ramadan, helping us to support many clubs and players with practical advice and guidance.
“Ensuring that cricket is open, inclusive and accessible for people of all faiths is critical to us.
“Working with organisations like Nujum will allow us to learn more, connect better and challenge ourselves to continually improve our work in equity, diversity and inclusion.”
Ebadur Rahman founded Nujum Sports in 2020 with the aim of giving Muslim athletes every opportunity to flourish in their respective sport.
He said: “Cricket deserves to be loved and played by everyone. Equity, diversity and inclusion aren’t checklists we need to tick off but rather tools to help us in today’s ever-demanding world.
“Cricket changes the lives of everyone associated with it, we are proud to be working with the ECB in making this game not only loved by our communities but a gateway for our communities to excel.
“Muslim athletes throughout the country need to see leadership and support, with the ECB we aim to deliver this and more.”
Jameel Rasheed, director of communication at Nujum Sports, said: “Muslims athletes, communities and Muslim grassroots cricket need to be recognised and understood.
“We hope with the help of the ECB’s localised EDI Action Plans, we will be able to remove discrimination and increase the inclusion that our communities need to flourish.”