LONDON: Chelsea have launched a “Search for an Asian star” campaign in a bid to find youth players of British-Asian background who could join the London Premier League club’s academy.
Very few British Asians have made it through to the professional ranks of English soccer while it was only in 2004 that Fulham’s Zesh Rehman became the first to play in the Premier League.
Chelsea, who have two British Asians at their academy, will be holding open trials at their training ground in Cobham for youngsters from Asian backgrounds in May, with the most talented being offered a three-day residential trial.
The trials are open to players in the under-12, 13 and 14 age groups and will be open to London and South-East based players from Indian, Pakistani, Sri Lankan and Bangladeshi backgrounds.
“We realise that there is a lack of representation of players from Asian backgrounds within the game and we hope that the competition will help inspire Asian youngsters,” former Chelsea and England defender Graeme Le Saux said yesterday.
“We want to show that race is no barrier to joining our club and that opportunities for Asian players do exist.”
The FA’s consultant in race equality, Brendon Batson underlined the FA’s support: “For a club like Chelsea to offer these opportunities demonstrates their commitment to breaking down the barriers between the game and the Asian community and mirrors the ambition of the FA that football is representative of all our communities,” he said.” — Reuters