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Ashton Hewitt pens open letter to others affected by racism

Dragons rugby star Ashton Hewitt has written an open letter inviting others who have been affected by racism in sport to share their experiences as part of the #TellYourStory campaign.

The winger – who was targeted by the latest in a string of vile racist tweets after a New Year’s defeat to the Scarlets – wants others to join him in contributing their views to the pioneering project which is looking to bring about meaningful change and stamp out racial inequalities once and for all.

For the past two months, the #TellYourStory campaign has been offering people a safe space to tell their lived experiences of racial inequalities and racism in sport, whether as participants, athletes, coaches, volunteers, employees or parents. 

A series of online forums and interviews have been conducted, and the website is being used to upload written stories or videos so that participation barriers within sport, as well as career progression barriers for those wanting to work in sport, can be better understood. 

The website will close at the end of January, and Hewitt is urging others not to miss out on the opportunity to highlight their experiences. 

The research has been commissioned by Sport Wales and the other home nation sport councils in hope that it will provide a level of insight that has never before been available, allowing a more informed and sustainable effort in tackling racism head on.

Text from Twitter

Ashton Hewitt’s open letter in full:

To everybody that has been affected by racism, 

As you may know, I am a professional rugby player and have recently been talking about my experiences of racism both in and out of sport to try and raise awareness about the problem. My reasons for speaking up and now supporting the work that Sport Wales are carrying out is to encourage people to share their experiences and become part of a collective that creates a louder voice in pushing for that all-important change. 

As somebody who has experienced racism throughout my life, within the sport I’ve always played, I want to do what I can to ensure that younger people participating in whatever sport it may be don’t have to experience some of the things that I did and feel the way I have felt. I wasn’t always confident enough to speak up on issues around racism out of fear of “rocking the boat” and raising an issue that nobody else around me would understand. This allowed racism to continue unchecked. I also recognised that the number of role models to look up to in my sport weren’t plentiful and as I get older and look past the team, there are a lack of role models throughout entire organisations.  

This is something I believe must change. For those of us who play for fun or as a career, racism should never be a part of that journey and it’s crucial that we understand, recognise and educate on the issue of racism.  Sport is a huge part of our lives and with that, diversity and inclusion should be visible across all sports and their organisations from participants at the lower levels to the decision makers at the top. If we’re being honest, these are things that organisations haven’t been proactive in tackling, however Sport Wales are vowing that they are committed to addressing it. This starts with gaining an understanding of people’s experiences and the barriers they have faced. So, I urge anybody who is comfortable enough to share their experiences and participate in the #TellYourStory initiative so that your voice is heard in pushing for this change. 

Thank you for reading,
Ashton Hewitt