Chelsea’s Asian Star proves big hit

The seventh instalment of Chelsea’s Asian Star initiative proved a huge success today (Monday) as more than 300 young Asian players took part in the event at the club’s Cobham training ground.

On a sun-soaked Bank Holiday Monday the youngsters took part in a day of activities designed to increase Asian participation in all levels of the game, while the winners in each age group are invited to join the Chelsea Foundation‘s Football Development Centres.

Chelsea Foundation coaches were joined by coaches from the Zesh Rehman Foundation, with participants competing in under-9s to under-12s age groups. Children were judged on a series of matches and tests specifically designed and used by the Chelsea Academy to examine speed, skill and ability

Nyan Mesuria, Ronaq Mussa, Abdullah Javid and Adam Ahmed were crowned champions in the under-12, under-11, under-10 and under-9 categories respectively. Prizes were presented by former Chelsea strike Tore Andre Flo and previous Asian Star winner Sam Khan, who now plays for Nottingham Forest’s academy.

Under-12 winner Nyan Mesuria said: ‘It’s a nice feeling, I really enjoyed the testing and the training ground is really nice, it was very cool to see.’

 

Under-11 winner Ronaq Mussa added: ‘It was a great experience for me, I had a fantastic time. I really enjoyed the small sided games as it allowed me to showcase my ability.’

 

Under-10 winner Abdullah Javid said: ‘It was an amazing experience to test my skills against my fellow peers, I had a brilliant day.’

 

Under-9 Adam Ahmed added: ‘The whole event was amazing, I feel that I really developed my shooting accuracy, I’m really happy I won my award.’

 

The winners along with Sam Khan (centre) and Tore Andre Flo after the Asian Stars event at Cobham Training Ground

The winners along with Sam Khan (centre) and Tore Andre Flo after the Asian Stars event at Cobham Training Ground

There were further awards handed out to Ziyad Al-Oyouni, Avi Kochhar, Seif Iqbal and Ameer Aslam in the under-12, under-11, under-10 and under-9 categories respectively after all four impressed the coaches during the testing phase of the day.

However the day wasn’t all about the children as the Hub2 building also hosted a number of talks for parents. These included presentations by the Zesh Rehman Foundation and a presentation from the Football Association Equality Department about their work developing opportunities for Asian players at all levels including coaching.

Flo, who played for Chelsea between 1997 and 2000 and now works in the Academy, was making his first appearance at Asian Star and was hugely impressed with both the day and the talent on show.

He said: ‘It must be a great day for the children, coming here to Cobham and using these facilities at Chelsea Football Club. I can imagine that this day is like a great adventure for them.

‘It’s great for the club to be involved in a project like this, Chelsea are involved in a lot of great things for children, including trying to develop grassroots football and most of all allowing children to enjoy themselves which they do on such a day like this. All in all I think that everybody must be happy to be here today.

 

‘I’m really proud to be working for Chelsea Football Club; they are doing a great job with grassroots football especially with events like Asian Star, which is why it’s so great to be involved with this club, he said.’

Asian Star is the first scheme of its kind undertaken by a professional football club. It is designed to give a much-needed boost to Asian participation at all levels of the game.

 

The crowd cheer after the Asian Stars event at Cobham Training Ground

The crowd cheer after the Asian Stars event at Cobham Training Ground

 

Article written by Chelsea FC PR Team

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Monica Sharma – One Passionate Football Player

We are kicking off 2014 in style and it gives us great pleasure to feature the first post of this new year, from Chesham United Ladies FC player Monica Sharma.……a passion from the start

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Being brought up in Hounslow by humble grandparents and a supporting family, allowed me to develop an unconditional love and passion for the game of Football. Many footballers start their development at very early ages, however mine started from a somewhat late age of 12 years. I was very much influenced by my dad and uncles who played for a local team, J&S Hounslow, now currently Indian Gymkhana FC. The players and all those associated with the club became family and still are. Watching every game on weekends, come rain, snow or sun to then talking about it afterwards became a huge part of my weekly routine. I’m sure for many people this does not coincide with the norm of what a young Punjabi girl should be doing at my age, but that didn’t stop my family from sharing their own experiences with me.

 

……pushing the passion to the next level

The beginning of secondary school is where I really started progressing my passion for the game and made the decision of taking up football as a long-term commitment. Even thinking about it now, I am truly grateful to my PE teachers who put so much time and effort in me. I was trialing with Chelsea FC at 13 years of age, but lacked the experience and physicality, which was why I played for Middlesex County Girls to turn these weaknesses into strengths. I always believed in my ability but that’s not good enough, I needed someone else to believe in my potential too. It was then that I came across a coach at Brentford Ladies FC who weaned me in, and eventually becoming the youngest player at 16 years of age to be training with the first team.

Football has always been a passionate hobby, but education is still a priority of mine. I was able to go to University and complete a Science degree and at the same time play football with other like-minded quality players. I was training and competing alongside national level players which was exactly what I needed at this point, helping me progress into a player I am today.

During my last year of university I needed to decide where I wanted to take my football from here. I had a trial with QPR Ladies lined up and a Euro Championships tournament in Turkey to be looking forward to. Unfortunately, injuries got the best of me and it couldn’t have come at a worst time. I sustained a complete ACL rupture which pushed me back considerably for two years. Not being able to do what you love took its toll emotionally and I had to re-consider either starting again or packing football in and focusing on my career. Looking back, in a way this injury was a blessing in disguise. It allowed me to take some time out of football and focus on pursuing another dream of mine, of becoming a Sports Physiotherapist (which I am still working towards).  However, I couldn’t have left football forever.

……if at first you don’t succeed, try again!

Last summer is when I thought I’d give it one last push. Being slightly ambitious in my approach I went along to trial for QPR Ladies, Tottenham Hotspurs  Ladies and Chesham United Ladies FC. Again, I had to decide whether I wanted to play for a name, or develop as a player and play matches consistently, which was why I decided to sign up for Chesham United Ladies FC as a defender. Never had I thought I would be receiving the best of both worlds, playing in the FA Women’s Premier League and still pursuing my career and training as a Physiotherapist.

It requires a lot of hard work and determination, which isn’t easy but it’s definitely worth it. Currently, I have no intentions of giving up football as long as my knees and ankles stay intact. And who knows, maybe one day this small town Punjabi girl will achieve her dreams.

 We would like to Thank Monica Sharma for sharing her experience with us and wish her all the best for the rest of the season.

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A Catch up with Baljit Rihal, BASTF Ambassador

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In a “twitter-style” interview, BASTF Ambassador Baljit Rihal takes time-out to answer some questions, giving us an insight into what’s keeping him on his toes.

While people are jetting away this August on Summer holidays for a break, this is not the case for you.  How busy have you been?
Lots of projects going on. Primarily focusing on AFA preparations. Media interviews lined up – radio, tv, print..There simply aren’t enough hours in the day.
How are preparations coming along for the AFA2013 event?
All on schedule. Nominations are being looked at and a shortlist will be revealed soon. We are working hard to reach out to Asians In Football across the country.
How will this year’s event differ from last year?
Bigger venue. More sponsors and supporters. More professional clubs have taken an interest. The AFA team has expanded with the addition of a marketing and event management team. It will be a more professional and polished event. We will also have the Barclays Premiership trophy on display..(with a dash of entertainment thrown in too)..
You have organised tournaments around the country ahead of AFA2013, how have these been received?
It’s been a resounding success and far exceeding expectations for our first AFA Trophy. Over 200 teams competed at regional Goals Centres. There has been a good buzz about the event over the summer and we are glad we attracted a wide range of teams.
The AFA Trophy finals take place on 18th August, what are you hoping for from the day?
It’s one week away.. I just hope teams come along; compete and enjoy the occasion. BritAsia TV will be filming the event and some scouts will be present on the day to see if they can spot some unearthed talent. All are welcome to attend the event, it will be a chance to see some good football and also meet some great people.
Can you give us an insight into what 2014 holds for you and team post AFA2013? 
Where do I start? Projects include The Asian Cricket Awards, The British Asian 11, Star TV India, another Football development centre. I will also be developing my football agency to a higher level working with established agents. I will be heading another initiative to get the Asians In Football cause to a greater platform…

A Big Thanks to Baljit from the BASTF team.