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FA eye Asian development

The Football Association has told Sky Sports that the key to developing Asian players is more Asian coaches.

Last Updated: 08/10/13 at 20:30 Post Comment

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Sky Sports News has looked at whether Asian football is developing in England, and the FA are confident they are progressing well with plans.

We spoke with Kevin Coleman, FA inclusion projects co-ordinator, who said: "Asian coaches come from Asian communities and live in Asian areas.

"So if you have more Asian coaches they're more likely to bring more Asian kids and families from their local areas into football.

"If those coaches are licensed and linked to county FAs they may be linked to professional clubs, academies, centres of excellence. So those kids have then got an exit route if they are talented."

Coach Imrul Gazi feels persuading the parents to get involved is a major hurdle for them.

"It isn't just kids, it's parents and historically that was a major problem for us, not getting the kids but the parents to these venues and dedicating their time to us and that is the biggest challenge for us," Gazi admitted.

His colleague Abdal Ahmed added: "We have players playing non-league and a handful playing at a good level in this country and abroad but it is getting form that handful to the next the next handful which is a problem for the Asian community."

Of 5,000,000 Asian living in Britain, there are just nine Asian registered professional footballers.

Currently according to FA stats, there are just 500 Asian or black coaches from 20,000 registered with the association. Of 28,000 referees, just 1,000 are black or Asian.

The FA wants 10 per cent of players and referees to be black or Asian by 2015.

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Speaking ahead of the Asian Football Awards - their founder Baljit Rihal told Sky Sports News that he feels a role model is needed for Asian youngsters.

"In terms of the role model, the Messi or the Rooney, I think the Asian community are yearning for that star," he said.

"Again it could be a matter of time. We're trying to increase awareness and make people proud of who they are. We hope the Asian Football Awards do this."

Rihal admits they are still finding it hard to understand why they are still struggling to see more Asians making the breakthrough.

"That question's been asked so many times and I don't think there's one particular answer," he continued.

"There have been stereotypes in the past, people said that due to parental pressure people couldn't go through, people have said because of their diet, because of their frame. Most of that isn't true.

"If you start to look at their physical frame, if you look at the Spanish frame, the world champions, it's quite similar to Asians.

"There is an element of parental pressure to go into a particular vocation however something I quite often quote, I think the gatekeepers of English football, the people who make the decisions, some stereotypes there that are preventing them from, in effect, picking Asians to go through to that level."

Rihal insists the FA are trying hard to make a difference.

"The FA are extremely important, obviously the governing body in England. They have put in place, for example a diversity and inclusion plan quite recently so they are extremely key," he said.

"They need to be engaging with the Asian community at a far greater level than they currently are and now it's about seeing how they actually action those plans.

"I think over the next year, year and a half it will be key to see how they are meeting their targets."

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