Mahboob Hussain, a 48-year-old from Bradford, and a keen league cricketer, will take up the full-time position at Emerald Headingley at the end of next month.
Cricket has been rocked in recent times with allegations of institutional racism levelled at Yorkshire by former player Azeem Rafiq and against the England and Wales Cricket Board by former umpires Ismail Dawood and John Holder.
The ECB launched an Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Plan in November, designed to make the sport more inclusive regardless of gender, ethnicity, disability, sexuality or social background, and Hussain’s appointment is part of Yorkshire’s commitment to that plan.
Hussain, who has what the club describes as “20 years of experience in social and inclusive roles working with hard-to-reach communities”, and whose title will be Head of Diversity, Equality and Inclusion, will conduct a full review across Yorkshire cricket and devise an action plan “to create an environment that is more reflective of the population at every level”.
He is relishing the challenge.
“My colleagues have said that this job combines my two passions rolled into one,” said Hussain, who plays for Bolton Villas in the Airedale Wharfedale Senior Cricket League, having previously captained Manningham Mills in the Bradford League.
“Diversity, inclusion and equality have always been a passion through work, and working in cricket has always been a dream. I am particularly passionate about local cricket. I have an understanding of the dynamics of it and the challenges, as well as the opportunities that we have.
“Through cricket, I have made so many friends and across cultures. I have been in teams where the majority of players have been south Asian, and I have been in teams where I am the only south Asian player. I have made lots of friendships, lots of connections and for me personally, lots of barriers have been broken down through the love of sport. That is what drives me. I am hoping that these kinds of experiences can be shared and understood by others. That is what attracted me to this role.”
Hussain joins Yorkshire from St Luke’s Hospital in Bradford, where he has worked for the past decade as a therapeutic/psychological practitioner and social worker, leading on “the design and delivery of inclusion-based projects in a psychology service for children with neurodiversity”.
Previous roles range from that of day care centre officer and child protection social worker at Bradford Social Care to workplace development officer focusing on disability services for children. Although vastly experienced in working with BAME communities, he believes that inclusivity is a wide canvas.
“We have to be realistic, look at what is achievable in the right timescales and get the tone right,” maintained Hussain, an off-spinner who captured more than 300 wickets in his Bradford League days.
“That being said, there must be trust and we must work at a good pace to ensure that we deliver and reach our goals. We need to ensure that we have the resources in place to allow those within key groups to grow as individuals. When looking at diversity, we also need to focus on initiatives with those who have disabilities and how to be more inclusive.
“There are large African-Caribbean communities in the area who have historically had great passion for cricket. There is some great work being done nationally, so it is important to learn from others, network and ensure that we are equally innovative and productive.”
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