"The event provides a great platform for Asian football talent."
Eight of the biggest Brit-Asian football teams will face-off in Glasgow, Scotland, for the 2016 UK Asian Football Championships.
Semsa are the host team of the tournament. They will be joined by Sporting Bengal United, GNG Leicester, Halifax Hammers, Coppice United, London APSA, Hounslow, and Smethwick.
Each team is hoping to win the tournament which ends at the prestigious home stadium of Celtic FC, Celtic Park.
Glasgow Green Football Centre will host the tournament matches which decide who plays in that huge final.
The UK Asian Football Championships begin on September 30, before the final at Celtic Park on October 2, 2016.
Smethwick Rangers are the current champions after their 3-1 victory over Hounslow in 2015. But will they be able to defend their crown?
Sporting Equals and the UK Asian Football Championships
The Scottish Ethnic Minority Sports Association (SEMSA) organise the UK Asian Football Championships which are in partnership with Sporting Equals.
Sporting Equals is the UK’s leading charity in promoting ethnic diversity in sport and physical activity. They aim to aid the inclusion of under-represented communities in sport, and that is exactly what the UK Asian Football Championships try to do.
The Championships aim to promote football and showcase the increasing level of footballing talent within the Asian community.
Kashif Siddiqi is one of only nine Asian footballers to have played in the English Football League.
And he says: “It’s great to see initiatives such as the Asian Football Championships taking place. The event provides a great platform for Asian football talent.”
Siddiqi set up the Kashif Siddiqi Foundation in 2011 to try and encourage young Brit-Asians to play football.
There are also several other foundations which have similar aims, but are initiatives like these enough?
What do they think?
In 2016, the UK Asian Football Championships are returning for their eighteenth year. Yet there still remains to be a devastating lack of Asians in professional football.
However, Arun Kang, the CEO of Sporting Equals, believes that these initiatives continue to highlight the issue, and refuse to let it get away. He says:
“We are delighted to be able to support the Asian Football Championships in its eighteenth year of being. Even though this is a momentous achievement, it is sad that there is still a lack of Asian footballers at elite level in the UK. However, in this instance, we congratulate the fantastic commitment and support of the Asian Football Championships who have kept alive this issue to empower Asian footballers, coaches and volunteers.”
Dilawer Singh, the President of SEMSA, agrees. He says: “Whilst we have yet to witness a breakthrough of Asian talent reaching the professional game, I remain hopeful that through events such as the championships, we will retain this rather emotive issue on the radar.”
Although there is an undeniable lack of Asians in professional English football, the Asian Football Championships are helping.
Asians are showcasing their talents in world renowned venues, so it’s now up to club officials to recognise them.
The 2016 UK Asian Football Championships are taking place between September 30 and October 2. It is free admission to all, so why not go and see Asian footballing talent for yourself?