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Vikas Sadiq of the Zesh Rehman Foundation has praised Chelsea’s Asian Star and urged youngsters interested in football to sign up for the ground-breaking initiative.

The scheme, the first of its kind undertaken by a professional football club, is designed to give a much-needed boost to Asian participation at all levels of the game with this year’s event taking place on Monday 25 May.

The Chelsea Foundation has been working closely with ZRF since 2013 to deliver Sidelined-2-Sidelines - a coach education and mentoring programme funded by the Premier League and the PFA - while coaches from ZRF also worked alongside the Foundation at last year’s Asian Star (pictured top).

Sadiq and his colleagues will once again be in attendance for the seventh edition of Asian Star and the 28-year-old, who studied business management at university before turning his attention to coaching in 2013 after coming to Cobham with his nephew, believes the event is a must for youngsters with a love of the game.

‘I always thought you had to be a player to get into football but Asian Star and the Zesh Rehman Foundation taught me that it was about the individual, it was about how much you wanted it and how hard you worked,’ said ZRF sports development officer Sadiq.

‘It has been an exciting couple of years, starting with taking my nephew down to Asian Star in 2013 to coaching at Asian Star in 2014 and at this year’s event, and working with the Zesh Rehman Foundation.

‘Asian Star gives a platform for young people. It gives them the belief and the motivation and the drive, as well as the knowledge and connections to make it in the world of football.

‘It is so impressive to be at Cobham as well, and you can see it in the kids, whether they were 7 or 10 or 12, that it was a huge deal to them to be at Cobham and they were buzzing.

‘For Chelsea to do something like Asian Star, to give young Asians the belief and the passion to go on and try and achieve their dreams in football, is an amazing thing.’

Asian Star was launched in 2009 and has grown in size ever since, attracting almost 400 young players to our Cobham training ground last year, where they competed in a series of matches and tests to examine speed, skill and ability. The winners in each age group were all invited to join the Chelsea Foundation’s Football Development Centres.

Chelsea will also be inviting managers, coaches and scouts from clubs at all levels of the game to identify talented youngsters, while workshops and useful information will also be available to parents.

Asian Star returns on Monday 25 May, with applications for players aged 9-12 now open at www.chelseafc.com/asianstar.

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Stamford Bridge, the home of Chelsea Football Club, played host to the Zesh Rehman Foundation (ZRF) ‘Sidelined-2-Sidelines’ Educational Day’ supported by the Premier League on Monday 23rd February.

Former Fulham defender Zesh Rehman launched the ZRF in May 2010. Zesh became the first Asian to play in the English Premier League and in all three divisions of the Football League representing Fulham, QPR, Norwich, Brighton, Blackpool and Bradford City, whilst also appearing for England Under 17’s and Under 20’s.

Delivered in partnership with the Chelsea FC Foundation, the day-long Educational Day welcomed over 180 young people who aspire to a career within professional and community football.

Attendees travelled from across the country to engage in a number of bespoke educational workshops, delivered by Paul Nevin (Head of Coaching, Premier League), Jason Lee (Equalities Executive, Professional Footballers Association), as well as participating in a Q & A session with former Aston Villa manager John Gregory, Danny Cadarmateri (ex Everton Striker) and Dr Zafar Iqbal (former 1st Team Doctor at Liverpool and Tottenham Hotspur FC).

Representatives from a number of football clubs and governing bodies including West Ham United FC, Brentford FC, Burton Albion FC, Sheffield Wednesday FC, Bristol City FC, Portsmouth FC, Show Racism the Red Card and the FA were present on the day to show their support and pass on their experience and expertise to the young people in attendance.

Simon Morgan, Head of Community Development at the Premier League added: “The educational day at Stamford Bridge, run by the Zesh Rehman Foundation and supported by the Premier League, was an inspirational event. The high turnout was a testament to the fantastic work being carried out at a grassroots level and we hope that those who attended will continue to develop their skills with the ultimate goal of gaining qualifications or employment in the sports sector.”

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John Gregory said: “I’m very proud to have lent my time to support the work which Zesh does via his Foundation. Speaking to young people from the day and hearing about the journeys of the young people part of the Zesh Rehman Foundation was very inspiring and it’s great to see an initiative like this being supported by the Premier League and Chelsea Football Club. The ZRF may only be 5 years old but already has stamped its mark in the professional game and I’m sure many of the young people in attendance today will leave enthused and motivated to pursue a career within football.”

Riz Rehman, Director at the Zesh Rehman Foundation said: “Today further highlighted the impact which professional clubs, players and managers can have on young people. The support from the Premier League has enabled us to put on an event at Stamford Bridge and inspire young people from all over the country. We had people travel down from far as Sunderland, Bradford, Bristol, Bolton, Manchester and Birmingham which shows the need for the work we do. To have former Premier League managers and players lend their support and share their own stories was very inspiring and we will be looking to work even closer with the Premier League to put on more Educational Days.”

Efe Ezekiel, 24, who travelled down from Bristol said: “Being a female, I was keen to attend and enjoyed meeting like-minded people. Hearing Raya Ahmed’s coaching journey with the Zesh Rehman Foundation was very intriguing. It’s great to see a young Muslim girl wearing a Hijab and coaching at a professional club and I’ve asked the ZRF to bring their work to Bristol as it’s very inspiring. I leave today further motivated to pursue my dream and inspire other young girls.”

A full report from the ZRF Education Day at Stamford Bridge will follow shortly.

Stamford Bridge, the home of Chelsea Football Club, will play host to the Zesh Rehman Foundation (ZRF) 'Sidelined-2-Sidelines' Educational Day' supported by the Premier League on Monday 23rd February.

Former Fulham defender Zesh Rehman launched the ZRF in May 2010. Zesh became the first Asian to play in the English Premier League and in all three divisions of the Football League representing Fulham, QPR, Norwich, Brighton, Blackpool and Bradford City, whilst also appearing for England Under 17's and Under 20's.

Delivered in partnership with the Chelsea FC Foundation, the Educational Day will prioritise young people and coaches who aspire to a career within professional and community football in any capacity.

Attendees will have the opportunity to engage in a number of bespoke educational workshops, delivered by Chelsea Football Club, the Premier League and the Professional Footballers Association, as well as participating in a Q & A session with role models working in various areas of football.

Professionals from across all areas of the game will also be present on the day to pass on their experience and expertise to the young people in attendance. The day-long event will highlight the skill sets, attitudes and experiences required to work in different areas of the game and provide a better understanding of building a career in football.

Simon Morgan, Head of Community Development at the Premier League said: "The Premier League is pleased to be working alongside the Zesh Rehman Foundation in order to encourage more young people from the Asian Community to get involved in football.

"The partnership has already proved successful with 25 young Asians supported into coaching roles with professional clubs.

"This educational day, supported by the Premier League, will be invaluable in helping local people with a keen interest in football to hone and improve their knowledge and understanding of the game, which in turn leads to a career in this field."

Zesh Rehman, currently plying his trade for Pahang FA in the Malaysian Super League said: "We are delighted to be working closely once again with our partners at the Premier League to put on such a day for aspiring coaches.

"The Premier League have shown their commitment and support to the work of the ZRF by funding our Sidelined-2-Sidelines programme and this educational day will allow us to showcase our achievements.

"The Premier League is the biggest brand in world football and I'm certain with the continued support and investment from the Premier League, the ZRF will be able to increase the under-representation of Asians working across all levels of the game."

The event takes place in the Centenary Suite at Stamford Bridge between 11am and 3pm with lunch and refreshments provided. To register for FREE, click here.

The Zesh Rehman Foundation (ZRF) held its first Football Festival at the Streatham-Croydon Rugby Club in Thornton Heath on Sunday 7 September 2014.

The FREE event aimed to encourage more children (boys and girls) to participate in grassroots football and be signposted towards local junior clubs and activities, where they can play more regularly.

Children had the opportunity to learn from professional club coaches from the Chelsea FC and Crystal Palace FC Foundation as well as from ZRF football coaches part of the Premier League and PFA funded 'Sidelined-2-Sidelines' (s2s) coaching programme, an initiative that has supported coaches from within the Asian community in finding roles at professional clubs including Brentford, Chelsea, Crystal Palace, Fulham, West Ham and Queens Park Rangers to date.

The event was also supported by Gambados, an exciting indoor play venue in Beckenham that offers children the chance to play, learn and explore in a fun, safe, learning environment. Volunteers from Gambados were on hand to support coaches deliver whilst offering all families a free ticket to attend the Beckenham site.

Representatives from Kick It Out were also present on the day and handed each child a goodie bag that included a free t-shirt and information about the work of Kick It Out at the grassroots.

Mrs Shazia Khan from Thornton Heath, whose 9 year old son participated in the day said: "My son loves football and has been asking me for a while to get him into competitive weekend football. In all honesty I was not aware of the process but after attending today, speaking with the coaches and gathering the information I needed, I can honestly say it's been worthwhile for me. My son has been invited to attend the ZRF Juniors FC session next Wednesday and I know this will give my son that extra bit of motivation which he needed".

On the day all children participating were put through a series of ball-related drills and skills and then involved in small-sided games. ZRF volunteers mingled with parents to give them more information about what the ZRF and partner organisations deliver to ensure there is something for everyone following on from the day.

Mr Miah from Streatham, whose 7 year old son attended said: "Ibrahim loves football but he has only ever played in the garden or around the park with his brother. Today was a real eye opener for us and we got more information as to where we could take him for regular sessions. As soon as we got home from the event, he went to the garden straight away and continued practising skills he learnt from the coaches. We are both now looking forward to attending the Zesh Rehman Foundation regular Soccer School session on Saturday".

Riz Rehman, Director at the ZRF, said:

"There are many children playing recreationally but there is still a lack of representation amongst children from Asian backgrounds playing competitive grassroots football within FA affiliated clubs across the country. More players represented at grassroots clubs will widen the opportunities for Asian players to be identified and recruited within development centres and academies. Our work is about the 100% rather than the 1%".

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ZRF to support Chelsea FC 2015 Asian Star

ZRF to support Chelsea FC 2015 Asian Star
Vikas Sadiq of the Zesh Rehman Foundation has praised Chelsea’s Asian Star and urged youngsters interested in football...

Premier League supported S2S Education Day proves a success

Premier League supported S2S Education Day proves a success
Stamford Bridge, the home of Chelsea Football Club, played host to the Zesh Rehman Foundation (ZRF) ‘Sidelined-2-Sidelines’...
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