Panjab FA founder speaks ahead of landmark fixture
The Fans For Diversity campaign will show its support to the Panjab FA on Sunday 28 May as it hosts a landmark fixture against England C at Damson Park, Solihull.
The match will display the talents of the Panjabi community alongside aiming to create social and community cohesion between different communities.
The fixture is FREE to attend, and you can secure your ticket for the fixture by clicking here.
Kick It Out spoke to Harpreet Singh, Founder and Chairman of Panjab FA about the vision for the Panjabi community and his thoughts ahead of the clash against the Three Lions.
Harpreet has been at the forefront of the football association for the Panjab, and has been waiting for this breakthrough moment since it was incepted two-and-a-half years ago.
“For the first time in football history, Panjab national football team will be taking on England C. We are the first South Asian football team to ever take on and England representative team. This is truly a landmark game.
“For me personally I am a Panjabi patriot but most importantly I am a champion of opportunities. My vision is to help people pursue and achieve their dreams. I’m also a champion of inclusion and diversity and the Panjab FA represents the definition of opportunity.”
“The Panjab FA is also a social sporting movement because we want to enhance people’s lives. A great man once said ‘sport is more powerful than governments at breaking down barriers’ – and I believe it speaks to a younger generation like nothing else can. So sport is a powerful tool.”
The Panjab have moved at a fast pace since 2014. Under the guidance of former Oldham Athletic defender Reuben Hazell, they reached the final of the Confederation of International Football Associations (ConIFA) world cup final in 2016.
But according to Harpreet that was just the start of their journey.
“The experience at last year’s ConIFA World Football Cup was incredible. We played against teams from across the world and made it to the final which was unbelievable.
“One of our key objectives is to give players and all staff the platform to use Panjab FA as an elevation in their football careers. Some of our squad went on trial at Notts County Football Club within two weeks of our return from the tournament.
“I represent the Panjab FA, but it is important to point out that we are here for young people. We want to make sure we provide the best opportunities for young people to excel.”
And so to the game against England C. A game which has been a long time coming but one which Harpreet is hoping to display the unique qualities of his football association and the talent within it.
“We have the Panjabi community in the UK, which is just over three million, and then we have the wider community.
“What we would like to see is a large crowd come to Solihull Moors to enjoy the game. They don’t necessarily have to come to support Panjab FA or the Panjabi community, but instead be there to give confidence to people from an Asian background, who have always felt restricted from participating in football.
“This match is an event to celebrate social cohesion. It’s a huge honour to playing against the Three Lions, a respected football nation. It’s down to people like Vinay Jalhota and Anwar Uddin that have played a major role in getting this game to happen.
“What this also shows is that the Panjab FA is a credible organisation. It was incepted just under three years ago and now to get to this stage is remarkable. There are football associations out there that are 50 or 60 years’ old that don’t have the ambition to play the likes of England like we do.
“There’s no better examination of their skills than to test themselves against England C. Just imagine if we won!”