CRICKET has been his lifelong passion - but four decades of love of the sport has been tainted by appalling racism at every level.

Sajid Majeed, one of the founding members of campaign group Running Out Racism, has told of being abused by other players and even spectators.

Trying to effect change from the inside, the 46-year-old was on the board of Cricket Scotland and on the executive committee of Western District Cricket Union until January this year.

Both organisations faced disgrace in a damning report released on Monday that recommended both be put into special measures.

He said he consistently raised issues with Cricket Scotland.

READ MORE: Running Out Racism determined to change Scottish cricket

Sajid said: "We did discuss issues of equality and diversity but there was a complete lack of acceptance of the issues out there, a reluctance to accept the extent of them.

"They said positive things about how they wanted to make these changes but that there were staffing issues. 

"The leadership did not react as well as it should have done."

Sajid, who has been playing cricket for 41 years, said he has faced issues of racism right through his career, in every position and at all levels, calling racism in the west of Scotland "systematic".

He added: "Children have had really bad experiences. Kids from non-white and non-privately educated backgrounds were not being given the same experiences.

"The sport has lost so much talent from people being turned away, and yet everyone was scared to say anything."

Of the many incidents Sajid has endured throughout the decades, one that stands out is an appalling instance of overt racism during a match in West Lothian.

Renfrew was playing against West Lothian cricket club in a national league division one game at Boghall Cricket Club Ground.

READ MORE: Scathing report highlights racism in Scottish cricket

During the fixture, a man in the crowd started to repeatedly shout "black b******d".

When Sajid appealed to the umpire for support, he replied: "There's nothing I can do about it, just get on with the game."

The abuse continued throughout the game and, at the end, the man made it into the line-up to shake hands with the team.

Others, Sajid said, found this amusing and failed to speak up against it.

There are still, he added, plenty of individuals in the game and clubs that do not want to acknowledge the problem.

Sajid took up cricket at the age of 15 when taster sessions were offered at his school, Bellahouston Academy.

He joined Clydesdale at 15 as a junior then went on to join Renfrew in 1983 and has been there since. 

Sajid said: "I absolutely loved football at the time and playing all sports but there was something about cricket.

"There's so much to talk about before and after the game and during the game - it's so strategic - the people I have met and the friendships I have made.

"It's as much a mental challenge as a physical one, there's just so much to enjoy about the game."

The question is how someone persists in a sport while enduring such persecution.

Sajid said a large part of it is love of the game.

"Sometimes we came out after a game and we felt how badly we were treated and at times you would think, 'what are you doing this for?'" he said.

"And I don't think I have got a clear answer to that.

"Love of the game. Passion for the game.

"I know people who have decided to walk away, thinking they can only take so much. But there is enough about the game I still love."

Last year there was another incident of Sajid being called a racist slur by a member of another team - but this time other players came to apologise for their colleague.

Sajid said: "I was upset about it but a number of individuals recognised that it wasn't acceptable and came forward to apologise and eventually he came forward to apologise too." 

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While Sajid sees a chink of light in individuals in the sport changing their behaviour, he believes that eradicating institutional racism may take as long as a decade.

He also believes anti-racism work must begin in schools and at home, building an inclusive culture from the early years upwards.

He said: "There's no easy fix for our sport, or sport in general, but sport should be a way of bringing people together.

"We need to encourage those in sport to be more understanding and more compassionate."