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


A Catch up with Baljit Rihal, BASTF Ambassador


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.

Timeout from my coaching – a short note!


Some years back, having been a parent on the sidelines, our then U7’s coach rang me up one evening and said he was going on a 3 week break and whether I could help run training sessions with the kids as cover.  I reluctantly agreed, unfortunately he never came back to training, however fortunately I got the opportunity to coach and from that moment on an emotional journey and bond with my players began.  For all those involved in any aspect of coaching, you will only too well know the high’s and low’s, but more importantly you will understand that this is an opportunity to make a positive impact on someone…..but now I have called it time-out…….for now! Continue reading

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. Continue reading