Rising star tackles racial abuse

One of Ireland’s brightest young soccer stars has spoken out about the racist abuse he suffers playing with his home club in Mayo.

Republic of Ireland U16 skipper, Castlebar Celtic’s Noe Baba, is being scouted by a number of Premier League clubs, with Man Utd heading the queue.

But Baba, whose family moved here from Cameroon five years ago, has revealed the downside of playing football here.

“It is unbelievable how much abuse I get on the pitch. Sometimes it is heavy tackling and sometimes it is because I am a good player, but it is abuse too because of my skin colour,” he said.

“Sometimes I try to look at it as nothing, but it really gets to me. I might not react to it right there but when you come home and you think about it, it hurts a lot. You have to dominate it by the way you’re playing, by playing better football than they are.”

The FAI last night stressed that racism had no place in sport.

“Through our inter-cultural programme, we are working very hard to combat racism through the clubs, leagues and affiliates at all levels to ensure football deals proactively with discrimination,” said spokesman Peter Sherrard.

Baba insists his experience of life in Ireland has been largely positive. He expresses huge gratitude when recalling how a virtual stranger gave him a lift to soccer training as a means of explaining his appreciation.

“I thought that was something really, really kind. It makes me feel I am part of this place now.”

* Ireland’s stars of the present drew 1-1 with Czech Republic at the Aviva Stadium last night.

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