The Diary

Cod Almighty | Diary

Like it or not, we are multi-cultural

24 May 2023

Otis Khan's eligibility to play for Pakistan has been confirmed. He is likely to represent them in June in the Four Nations Cup, against Mauritius, Kenya and Djibouti, and the South Asian Football Federations Championship.

A hasty search shows that there are several stories to unpack here, around a sport struggling for prominence in a country dominated by cricket, whose federation was twice suspended by FIFA and is only now coming back into competition. Khan will be taking his place among players who have had to overcome some significant obstacles before they could play for their country.

Then there is Khan's own journey, his route to international recognition delayed not only by politics but by his own earlier hope that he might one day play for England. He qualifies for Pakistan through a late grandfather. There are people who mock such sporting affiliations, but Middle-Aged Diary is not one of them; I qualify as a Town fan through a late grandfather.

My grandfather moved from Grimsby to Hull, my parents from Hull to Wales via Barrow-in-Furness and Hertfordshire. No great trauma, though having three bored children kicking the seats on the long car journeys from Aberystwyth to Cleethorpes must have been trying, and no prejudice. The tales Otis Khan's grandfather told surely spoke of loss and need, and race, as well as opportunity.

If and when Otis Khan plays for Pakistan, it is the summation of an identity made up of many facets. He honours himself, his grandfather, and all of us. Like it or not, we are made of many cultures.