Muslim star backs initiative
CHELSEA striker Nicolas Anelka has lent his support to Chelsea’s Search for an Asian Star Campaign.
Launched last month, the project aims to identify young talented players from the Asian community. Chelsea will be holding open trials for youngsters from Asian backgrounds during the May Bank Holiday with the most gifted players being offered a three-day residential trial at the club’s world class academy.
Anelka, the club’s anti-discrimination ambassador, hopes that it is the first step in attracting more British Asian youngsters to the game.
“I think it’s important because on the pitch you should see all the countries and colours of the world, it is important to show this and very important to do it,” he said.
Anelka, a French Muslim, also believes that race or religion should be no barrier to participation in football.
“Religion is outside of football, you do what you want to do outside the pitch but on the pitch everybody is the same, and we all have the same desire to play football and enjoy the game, so this is the way we have to think because football is a fantastic game,” he added.
This is the first time a professional club has attempted to address the under representation of Asian players within the game in this way, and Anelka hopes to see an increase in participation at all levels of the game as a result. He struggles to explain why football has been missing out on such a large demographic.
“Football is famous in Asia and all over the world so I can’t tell why these youngsters are not involved. They try to be involved, and this is the best way to make things happen,” said the 30-year-old.
The Search for an Asian Star event will take place on the 2, 3 and 4 May at Chelsea’s Cobham training ground for players in the under 12,13 and 14 age groups and will be open to London and south-east based players from Indian, Pakistani, Sri Lankan and Bangladeshi backgrounds.
Participants will be judged on a series of matches and tests specifically designed and used by the Chelsea Academy to demonstrate their speed, skills and ability.
The winners from each age group will be offered an initial three-day trial at our academy and any player meeting the required standards will be offered the chance to join some of the country’s most talented youngsters in the Chelsea youth system.
With hundreds of kids already signed up applications for the Search for an Asian Star are due to close shortly. To apply for the event please visit www.chelseafc.com/asiansoccerstar