“I’m delighted to win this award after years of hard work and belief.
On November 14, 2017, the fourth edition of the Asian Football Awards (AFA) took place in London, UK.
Since their launch, by founder Baljit Rihal, in 2012, the AFA’s have become increasingly popular.
The Awards are one of few successful initiatives which are tackling the issue of the lack of Asians in football. And with support from the English FA, who recently appointed Rupinder Bains as their first Asian director, the AFA’s will only continue to improve.
Bringing special recognition to Asians throughout football, the Asian Football Awards are truly unique.
Despite there still being a worrying lack of British Asians in football, the Awards celebrate those who are, from professional footballers to those in media and sports science.
But who were the winners at the fourth Asian Football Awards, 2017? DESIblitz brings you all of the winners from each category, and also hear exclusively from two of them.
2017 Asian Football Awards
With eleven categories, the 2017 Asian Football Awards once again brought special recognition to Asians throughout the beautiful game.
As in previous years, hosts for the special night were Sky Sports’ Dharmesh Sheth and the radio presenter, Noreen Khan. And it was Noreen who presented Maya Vio (above) with her ‘Women’s Player Award’.
Vio, who plays for Spurs Ladies, beat Gillingham’s Vanisha Patel and QPR’s Neethu Haridas to the trophy.
Suliman, 19, now has back-to-back ‘Young Player Awards’ after winning the title in 2015 and 2017.
There is an incredibly bright future ahead for the young man after also recently winning the European Under-19 Championships. And that is why Easah Suliman is one of the DESIblitz 5 British Asians to watch in English football.
Meanwhile, Danny Batth, of Wolverhampton Wanderers, is the senior player of the year after winning the 2017 ‘Player Recognition Award’.
Batth is currently enjoying a wonderful 2017/18 season with Wolves. His side are four points clear at the top of the Championship after 18 games as they hope to secure promotion to the English Premier League.
Unfortunately, though, it hasn’t been an easy time for Danny. Despite hailing from an Indian background, and expressing his desire to play for the country at International level, Batth has been blocked from playing for India.
The Rise of Panjab FA
It’s been a sensational few years for Panjab FA since their recent establishment.
In summer 2016, Panjab FA went to the ConIFA World Football Championships as the newest member of the association. However, after reaching the final against the host nation, they left as heroes.
A year later, in May 2017, Panjab took on the England C team in a landmark football match. And despite narrowly losing the match 2-1, Panjab FA showed great skill and valour to once again be seen as heroes.
Now their hard work is paying off as the 2017 Asian Football Awards recognise both the team and its players.
The Awards name Panjab FA as the winners of the ‘Team Award’. And speaking exclusively to DESIblitz, the founder and chairman of Panjab, Harpreet Singh, says:
“It’s an honour to be recognised by the Asian Football Awards, especially since we’ve only been going since 2014. It’s been an incredible journey so far for myself, the management and the players alike.”
In a special preview to the future, Singh adds: “This is just the beginning. In years to come, we hope to continue growing and make more people proud of our achievements. We’re going to be taking Panjab FA to three different continents across the world.”
Harpreet also gives his sincere thanks to everybody involved in the Panjab FA project, as well as his players. And it was two Panjab FA players who were competing to win the ‘Non-League Player of the Year’ award.
Brothers Amar and Arjun Purewal were two of the three nominees for the award. And it was Panjab’s goalscoring talisman who just about beat his twin brother to the award.
Also speaking exclusively to DESIblitz, Amar Purewal, says: “I’m delighted to win this award after years of hard work and belief. To come back from 14 months out, after a serious knee injury, to finish as top goalscorer in the World Cup for Panjab is a particular highlight.”
He also adds his thanks to his mother, his wife, and his twin brother [Arjun] for their fantastic support and influence in his career.
Winners at the 2017 Asian Football Awards
Here is a list of all the winners from the 2017 Asian Football Awards:
PLAYER RECOGNITION AWARD
Danny Batth (Wolverhampton Wanderers)
YOUNG PLAYER AWARD
Easah Suliman (Aston Villa FC)
WOMEN’S PLAYER AWARD
Maya Vio (Spurs Ladies)
NON-LEAGUE PLAYER AWARD
Amar Purewal (West Auckland & Panjab FA)
Kulwinder Singh Johal (GNG Leicester)
Taff Rahman (The FA)
FA FOR ALL AWARDS
Stanmore Jafferys Football Academy
BEHIND THE SCENES AWARD
Humayun Islam (Shapla Sports & Bangla Bantams)
Seema Jaswal (Premier League TV / FIFA U17 World Cup)
SPECIAL RECOGNITION AWARD
Chelsea FC’s ‘Asian Star’ Initiative
DESIblitz gives special congratulations to all of the winners, as well as to all of the runners-up. And if you want to find out more about the awards, you can visit their website here.