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irish cricket racism Indian cricketer who coached Eoin Morgan as a child speaks of racism in Ireland

Bobby Rao says even his Irish wife has faced harassment and intimidation

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M.V.Narasimha 'Bobby' Rao now lives in Strabane, but has experienced terrible racism in Ireland, north and south

M.V.Narasimha 'Bobby' Rao now lives in Strabane, but has experienced terrible racism in Ireland, north and south

M.V.Narasimha 'Bobby' Rao now lives in Strabane, but has experienced terrible racism in Ireland, north and south

A former cricket captain of the elite Hyderabad cricket team in India who made a new life for himself playing and coaching in Northern Ireland has hit out at the racism he suffered after spending 30 years in Ireland.

His comments come after the recent controversy surrounding tweets made years ago by England's Ollie Robinson.

Many other players are facing the same criticism for social media posts they made years ago, including Eoin Morgan and Jos Buttler.

Bobby Rao, who lives in Strabane, and has served as Chairperson of the Northern Ireland Ethnic Minorities Association, spoke of the heartache he faced suffering racial prejudice both on and off the cricket field during the three decades he has spent coaching in both the Republic and Northern Ireland.

Speaking to Siasat.com he explained: “I had a very difficult time when I first came to play in England and then Ireland. I did a lot for Irish cricket and the community development in my region. I coached their players and nine of my trainees represented Ireland in the World Cup. I coached Eoin Morgan when he was young. Now his name has come up in this controversy. It is difficult to have faith in anybody.

“Despite my contributions to Irish cricket, in the course of my work and my game, I regularly heard comments about my colour. On one occasion I lost my job at the mill I was working for. It is not that everyone is racist. Perhaps 95 percent are not. But the five percent who are, can make your life hell.”

Bobby also said his wife, who is from Ireland, also faced vile threats and intimidation down the years, with the couple at one stage having their garden destroyed by thugs.

“Even though my wife was Irish, I was not spared. On occasions the haters sent abusive letters to me. When I campaigned against racism and when I tried to make progress at work and community service, they wrote on the walls: ‘Black Bob, Go Home’. My garden was vandalised. It was a very depressing time. And what is frustrating is that there is no law against it. I cannot go to court. I know that I will never get justice."

He also spoke of his friendship with the late John Hume, who had campaigned for racial equality to pass into law.

“Later I became friends with John Hume who won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1998. We tried to get the Racial Equality Bill passed in the Irish parliament but we had no success.

“So there is no law here to protect you against racial abuse. Racism can be practiced in different ways. There is a subtle way of doing it. That is how educated people do it. For example they may block your way forward. They may block your promotion. They may deny you a job. The post will go to a less qualified person than you just because of the colour of his skin.”

Bobby also spoke of the sad case of another player from India who suffered so much abuse he thought about taking his own life.

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“So they all talk about racial equality but they do not practice it. I can quote the example of another Indian player from Karnataka whose name I won’t reveal because he is still playing. He was hounded so badly that he began suffering from depression. He went to court but didn’t get justice. It is all very heartbreaking. He told me later that had I not been there to support him during this crisis, he would have committed suicide.

“Besides coaching, I have also done a lot of community service to bring about racial unity. I was honoured with an MBE award by the UK government. I am involved with the All Together Now campaign which is designed to challenge racism and celebrate the multi-cultural heritage of this region of Ireland. People from 25 countries live in this area. We strive to provide equal rights to all of them.”

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