sports gazette

Khalsa Football Federation Championships are raising Asian player profiles

Singh Sabha Slough win UK Asian Championship
Published: 7 Oct 2016

The tournaments are a supporting factor of showcasing Asian talent in football.

The Khalsa Football Federation (KFF) founded in 1987 aim to give Asian football the prominence it requires.

Head of Media and Marketing at the KFF, Poli Tank said: “For a lot of Asians a sporting career is not as good a career as being a doctor or a dentist. We have had a lot of professional clubs attend our tournaments and work with our youth team. We are always looking at ways of pushing forward our young talent from our tournaments."

Summer tournaments invite clubs from all over the UK from different levels of football and are played in Asian populated areas such as Walsall, Derby, Birmingham, Barking and Leicester.

Singh Sabha Slough (SSS) played in all of the tournaments, reaching two finals this year. Unluckily they lost both, one on penalties and the other in extra time. They however, qualified for the UK Asian Championship.

Formed in the early 80’s, SSS play their home games at the Singh Sabha Slough Sports Centre.

Around ten years ago Harjit Sandhu put a new team together with players around the age of 18.

The team is still the same as Sandhu formed, with an addition of a few young players.

After eight years in the Middlesex County Premier Division they are now playing on Sunday's in the Thames Valley Premier League.

On 2nd October at the 18th UK Asian Football Championships in Glasgow, the family of SSS went onto make a name for themselves.

Opening games were played at Glasgow Green Football Centre last Friday and Saturday.

The competition ended with SSS beating East London APSA 6-1 in the final at Celtic Park on Sunday.

These tournaments allow three non-Asians per team, for SSS these players were Liam Ferdinand of Binsfield, Kensley Mahoney of Bracknell Town and Baboucar Jarra of Windsor FC.

The team played three league games. In the group stages the boys were 4-1 down with 20 minutes to go against Smethwick but came back to draw 4-4 and topped the group to make it to the final.

SSS scored six to beat London APSA and win the tournament.

Sukhbir Hunjan said: “I played every minute of every game in Glasgow and to win was the best feeling, especially as Singh Sabha Slough are like my family.”

As there is a lack of Asian participation in the game at a high level it is the work of organisations such as the KFF to encourage parents to get their children into a career that may not be seen as normal for many people.

“There is no secret formula, just do your best every day. Put the work in away from the pitch and you will see the results on it. Work to be the best player that you can be.”

Gurjit Singh, 25, Striker for Hednesford Town FC is encouraging other Asians who wish to play football to work hard every day.

He said: “There is no secret formula, just do your best every day. Put the work in away from the pitch and you will see the results on it. Work to be the best player that you can be.”

After scoring goals week in, week out for a struggling Smethwick Rangers side, he was being named man of the match in nearly every match.

This got him noticed and led him to his current team.

When speaking about his contract he said: “To be honest it took a while for it to sink in. I was obviously very happy, what made me realise how big of a deal it was when everyone started to message me and congratulate me. I just couldn't wait to get started.”

Yan Dhanda, 17, is a Liverpool youngster. His father, Jas, took him to training sessions since the age of four.

He is encouraging other Asian parents to take their children to training in order to be taught the basic skills and techniques from early on.

As soon as Yan started playing academy football, his dad strived to make him a better player. “He needs to better than the others next to him,” his dad told him. “He cannot be equally as good, he always needs to be better.”

Going on to say: "With so little Asian participation in academy clubs at the moment, if an Asian player was to be on equal level with others, then the manager would always choose the others as the Asian may always be seen as unproven."

Always telling Yan “This is why you have always got to show that you are above the others.”

He thinks “This will always be the minimum requirement until we see good influx of players from Asian backgrounds breaking through."

The myth that is still around is that Asians don't play football and those that do only prefer to organise games amongst themselves.

Poli thinks it is time that mainstream football has to take notice as Asian talent is on the brink of bringing footballers to all levels of the game.

He said “We as the Asian community need to keep pushing hard ourselves as this is the only way to get the breakthrough that we deserve. If we can achieve this on our own our victory will be even sweeter knowing that we achieved this by forcing the main stream football clubs to sit up and watch and make us part of the game.”

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