Chelsea give trials to Asian youngsters
Premier League champions Chelsea will give six Asian players a week-long trial at the club as part of their search for an Asian football star.
The six were chosen after recent trials at the club for Bangladeshi, Indian, Pakistani and Sri Lankan players aged between eight and 13.
It is the scheme’s second year and 450 players turned up for three days of tests watched by Chelsea’s coaches.
Two of last year’s three winners are now at Leyton Orient and Southend. Chelsea launched the first project of this kind in 2009 and had 350 participants turn up at their Cobham training ground.
This time around, the Stamford Bridge outfit have teamed up with Asian Media Group, Kick It Out and bhangra singer Jaz Dhami in their Asian Soccer Star initiative.
Football Association ambassador Brendan Batson, who played for West Brom, Arsenal and Cambridge, was at the trials and is trying to promote more Asians into the football in both a coach and playing capacity.
“This is a really good initiative and I know other clubs are looking at doing the same,” he said. “I think it sends out a great message to the Asian community that football wants to invite them into the game.
“It is a real mystery why we haven’t seen in the Asian community what has happened before with black players.”
He added: “I do a lot of stuff with the FA to find the barriers preventing Asian youth from getting through.
“There are some issues to address and football has to be mindful of that. One of the big problems is maybe not starting to play young enough.
“They say you need 10,000 hours to reach the top of any profession, whether it’s sport or the arts or anything, so unless you start at a young age, you are falling behind your peers.
“At a club like Chelsea the standard is very high and these sorts of things can only help.”