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.

Follow Monica Sharma on Twitter

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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.

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