Asian Women in Grass Roots Football: Manjit Uppal

I love new challenges and am always keen to meet or read about inspirational people. I love working with young people, as well as supporting them, I feel I learn a lot from them….

Mother of two Manjit Uppal talks about her experiences in football, how it all began and how the importance of family support has helped her in supporting youth in sport.

I am a 43-year-old mum of two boys aged 18 and 12. I have been married for 22 years to my wonderful husband.

I have worked as a learning Mentor at a local Birmingham School for the last 8 years with predominantly Asian and Afro-Caribbean students. I work full-time alongside a dedicated team of Mentors.

I have always enjoyed sports, whether it’s watching or playing. I also run regularly, having taken part in the Birmingham half marathon most years.

I joined a martial arts class, to support my sons and 9 years on, I have gained my black belt. I love football and have followed Liverpool FC for as long as I can remember, I have two brothers who eat and sleep the sport.

I have always wanted to work with children in some capacity. I started to volunteer in local schools, while I worked full-time at the local electricity company.  I was fortunate to be offered the role as a learning mentor. In my role as a Mentor I provide emotional and motivational support to students and families to help them overcome barriers to their learning and everyday life.

My oldest son was interested in football and wanted to be part of a team, at that time his favourite position was in goal. I have always encouraged my children to follow their dreams and aspirations. As a mum I have always said I would be actively involved with my children. At the beginning I watched every coaching session and match. My son joined a local football team called Hamstead Diamonds, the manager asked if I would like to help out, I said I would. This was in 2005, soon after I took my Level 1 Coaching Badge. I was with this club for two seasons, when the manager asked if I would join him in setting up his own team. In 2007 Conquerors was born, I had 4 fantastic seasons with this club. We played in the central Warwickshire League. I was learning all the time. There was a great network of families and the boys were great. In the final season we went on a Spanish tour, where the team got a chance to play against two Spanish clubs, one being Cesc Fabregas’s first club. We took the boys and families around Camp Nou, it was great to be part of this experience. The club disbanded, the boys were leaving school and choosing different paths. I have kept in touch with most of the boys and continued to support them. Some of them have come over to my new football club.

Last season a gentleman called Mike Miller contacted  me and asked if I would be interested to be part of the coaching team for a new team he was starting up. I said I would be happy to. Roaring Lions was started last season, an open age team was set up. The ages range from 16 onwards. This season we are adding an under 13 squad. Both of my sons play for the two teams. We train on a Tuesday evening and Saturday morning. The older team play in a Saturday League and the younger ones will be part of a Sunday League. We will be starting pre season training this week.

I love new challenges and am always keen to meet or read about inspirational people. I love working with young people, as well as supporting them, I feel I learn a lot from them. I have been very humbled that I have been given the chance to have this experience and meet such wonderful people. My family, friends and most of all my husband are supportive in everything I do.

Post written by Manjit Uppal

We are pleased to have Manjit Uppal on board as a serial writer for our blog, you can also follow her on twitter.

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