England’s Premier League has launched an action plan to help young footballers of South Asian descent develop into professional football.
The program, launched along with anti-discriminatory organization Kick It Out, is part of the No Room For Racism, which aims to improve playing, training, and leadership pathways for Black, Asian and Ethnic Minority (BAME) groups.
It will focus on increasing South Asian representation in the under-9 and under-11 age groups and will include research on barriers to entry into sports for young players.
Based on data published by the professional football players Association (PFA) in March, there are only 16 professional football players in the upper four levels of English football with British South Asian heritage.
“The South Asia Action Plan is a long-term project that will examine and enhance the diversity of all in the academy system, both on and off the field,” said Neil Saunders, Premier League Soccer Director.
“The representation of South Asians on the field in elite soccer is a statistical anomaly,” Kick It Out president Sanjay Bhandari said.
At present, football reflects neither the population nor the popularity of the British community in South Asia. We love the game as fans and want to get seen more on the field.”
Cricket has also been attempting to address an English lack of South Asian representation in the sport after a number of players, including former Yorkshire spinner Azeem Rafiq, alleged they were victims of institutional racism at their clubs