We interviewed London 2012 Paralympic athlete James at our recent club event who shared his views on racism in sport.
Campaign Worker Jason Webber caught up with Roberts at our event recently at Prestatyn Town FC.
James competed at the 2008 Beijing and London 2012 Paralympic Games. In 2008 he competed in the Trunk and Arms Mixed Double Scull in Adaptive Rowing and made the transition to Sitting Volleyball for London 2012. In London James competed as part of the men's Sitting Volleyball team which finished in 8th place.
Q1: Have you ever experienced racism?
JR – I have been quite fortunate not to experience racism due to the colour of my skin coming from a mixed background and attending a multicultural school.
I have received quite a bit of racism through my nationality. Some of these comments were intended as light hearted banter, although there should still be no place for any comments in any context.
Q2: Do you think racism is still an issue in sport?
JR – Yes, especially in football particularly. I think there are some prejudice attitudes that exist in different sports in the Olympics / Paralympics also. I think it has got better over the last 10-20 years or so. People are more understanding of peoples beliefs and cultures these days.
Q3: What more can be done to challenge racism in sport?
JR – I don’t think that it will ever be completely stamped out across the world. Britain does have more of a tolerance as we live in a more multicultural society.
There has to be a ban for any spectators found guilty of being racist and any athletes should be reprimanded if they are found guilty as they are role models and should be setting an example, especially for young people.
Q4: How can sport and athletes help to stop racism in society?
JR – It is not acceptable in sport, and that should be the case in society. Athletes are role models and have a responsibility to show that it is not acceptable in any walk of life and leading by example
They can have a positive impact on society if they do this, particularly on young people by highlighting these anti racism messages.
Q5: What advice would you give to anyone receiving racism?
JR – It is not acceptable to treat someone differently because of the colour of their skin or their background. It’s important that anyone experiencing racism tells someone right away. This will ensure something will get done about it and to stop it from happening further.
It is important to react in the right way and not to negative react to the person abusing you. You have to control your frustration and anger to ensure you don’t get into trouble yourself. You have to be the bigger and brighter person.
Q6: What has been your most memorable moment?
JR – Competing at 2 Paralympic games in 2008 & 2012 are my best memories. If I had to pick a specific moment it is tough, but achieving my goal to be selected for Team GB in 2008 and competing in front of my friends and family at London 2012 would be it.
Q7: What advice would you give to anyone who have a dream to compete in the Olympics / Paralympics?
JR – Work hard at your dream and hopefully you will get the rewards.
Q8: What benefits have you had travelling the world and meeting people from different countries?
JR – You get a sense of seeing other cultures and how they live; it is great to interact with different cultures. You can learn allot from different people. It can only be a positive thing to meet and interact with other people from other countries.
Q9: Do you think that having a multicultural community in Wales is positive?
JR – Yes defiantly, you can learn from other people’s cultures in terms of different food, music, fashion etc. It can only be a positive thing to experience.
Q10: Do you think that it is important to educate young people about racism and how to deal with the issue?
JR – It is a great thing to do to educate and challenge young people as young as possible. Young people are not racist, but might have been passed on negative or prejudice attitudes from others. It is important to educate them and to challenge them on these attitudes before they are ingrained in their mind.
Q11: Do you think that using sport as a tool to challenge racism is a good way to have a positive impact on young people?
JR – Everyone can associate with sport one way or another. They can see how it is not accepted in sport and can see how these key messages can be brought into everyday life. Role models again have a positive impact on them; they see these athletes and players on TV and want to copy them and their behaviour. This is why it can be a good tool to challenge racism.
Q12. Any final messages?
JR – Racism is not acceptable in sport let alone life. It’s educating young people about racism that is key; education will go a long way to stopping it.