West Ham United searching for South Asian Football Talent

West Ham United want to find football talent within British South Asian Communities and increase Desi representation in elite football.

West Ham United Searching for South Asian Football Talent f

"I think the challenge is quite stark around South Asian representation”

More South Asian football talent must be located and seen in professional football. Clubs such as West Ham United are seeking to find and nurture South Asian footballers.

West Ham United staged two Emerging Talent Festivals for football players of South Asian heritage in June 2024.

The two Emerging Talent Festivals were staged at Frenford Football Club in Ilford, for the season’s Under-10s and Under-11s age groups.

West Ham has invited the identified young talent to represent the club at the National Premier League Emerging Talent Festival on August 4, 2024.

Following the national event in 2023, six players were signed to academies.

West Ham is committed to establishing strong connections with its local South Asian communities.

More than 325,000 South Asians live in the London Boroughs of Newham, Redbridge, Tower Hamlets, Barking and Dagenham, and Havering.

Therefore, many South Asian football talents potentially wait to be discovered and engaged.

West Ham was one of the first clubs to support the Premier League’s South Asian Action Plan, alongside clubs such as Luton Town.

Indeed, they set up Emerging Hammers in the heart of East London. The focus is to provide access opportunities and elite pathways for local players of South Asian heritage.

West Ham became the first in the Premier League to recruit an Academy Link Mentor. The Club appointed the “experienced and popular” Rashid Abba.

Speaking at West Ham United’s Emerging Talent Festivals, Mr Abba stated:

“We are looking to identify players with the potential to be part of our Emerging Talent programme and potentially even trial at the Academy of Football if they have the ability to compete in an elite environment.

“This is a great opportunity to champion players from the local community, and to give them opportunities and pathways to progress into the professional Academy system.”

Overall, the Emerging Talents Festivals are part of the Club’s “wider approach” to doing two things:

“ […] addressing and promoting underrepresentation within the professional game.”

West Ham’s focus reflects broader attempts within the Premier League to widen representation and inclusion.

Yasir Mirza, FA Director of Equality, Diversity and Inclusion, spoke to Sky News.

He stated that the FA’s key mantra, “A Game for All”, is about ensuring English football is inclusive for everybody.

For him, this includes Britain’s Desi community:

“I think the challenge is quite stark around South Asian representation in the elite game.

“Keeping our foot on the pedal, I think, is a really, really important job for us. It’s a long-term goal. It’s a long-term aim for us.”

There are 22 professional players of South Asian heritage aged 17 or over in England’s top four leagues in 2024, which is a 29% rise from 17 in 2022-23.

The overall percentage of Desi professional players remains low in England and Wales. There are approximately 5,000 professional footballers in the UK, with less than 1% of South Asian heritage.

As clubs search for and locate South Asian football talent, the landscape of football could change in the next few years becoming more inclusive and representative.

Somia is our content editor and writer who has a focus on lifestyle and social stigmas. She enjoys exploring controversial topics. Her motto is: "It's better to regret what you have done than what you haven't."

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