Bolton boxer Amir Khan is ‘delighted’ with an initiative from Chelsea Football Club which is set to increase the participation and opportunities for young Asians in sport.
Into its sixth year, Chelsea’s Asian Star programme will give kids from Asian communities the chance to showcase their talents on the football pitch.
Former world champion and 2004 Olympic-silver medallist Khan has given his backing to the scheme and believes it will have a massive effect on communities.
“I am delighted to support Chelsea’s Asian Star initiative as sport can have a huge positive effect on young people and the communities they live in,” said the 27-year-old.
Khan is one of the most highly-recognisable Asian sportsmen in the world and recently lost out on the chance to face Floyd Mayweather in the ring, resulting in an war of words on social media.
The former WBA light welterweight is all too aware of a different battle facing Asian communities and how this opportunity could give people the chance to access sport.
Khan said: “It is well documented that there are only a few British-Asian professional footballers and the Asian Star programme is addressing that and letting people from the Asian community know that they can play football, the talent is there and there are clubs willing to nurture those skills.”
Only a handful of British-born Asian footballers currently play at the highest level such as Michael Chopra for Blackpool, Neil Taylor for Swansea and Zesh Rehman who plays for the Pakistani national side.
A mere eight Asian-born players are registered across the top-four divisions in England, and other sports are experiencing the same low levels of participation.
Although the scheme is primarily designed to find the next generation of footballers, Khan is keen to stress that isn’t the sole purpose of the programme.
“It is not just about finding the football stars of the future it is about getting youngsters interested in sport in general, which in turn leads to healthier lifestyles for the children involved,” he said.
“The opportunities that the programme offers can be of huge benefit to the young people involved and I wish all those taking part the best of luck.”
The scheme was initially launched in February by Eden Hazard and is due to take place on May 5 at Chelsea’s state-of-the-art training ground in Cobham with places available for players between the ages of nine to 12.
Participants of the scheme will be judged on a series of matches and tests specifically designed to measure speed, skill and ability.
Managers, coaches and scouts from other clubs at all levels of the game will be invited to attend to help identify potential superstars of the future.
Image courtesy of WSJ, via YouTube, witht thanks.