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The Zesh Rehman Foundation (ZRF), alongside partners at Queens Park Rangers Football Club, the Premier League and the Professional Footballers Association (PFA), are proud to announce an event on the 25th June at Loftus Road – 'Sidelined-2-Sidelines'.

Titled 'My Football Journey', Zesh will give a keynote speech on his career in football from a young man starting out in the game, through his time playing in the English Premier League and Football league, his current adventure in Asia and his plans for the future. Along the way Zesh will discuss his personal commitment to the development of Asian communities within the professional game, the role of footballers in society and his Foundations work.

Other speakers will include representatives of Queens Park Rangers FC, the Premier League and PFA.

Strictly an invited guest's only event, this will be an opportunity for young players, coaches and other interested parties to ask questions of both Zesh and the panel, and to engage with the ZRF.

As space is limited at this event, we are also inviting any interested parties to send questions to Zesh and the panel that we will try to ask on the day. If you are interested in sending questions please address them to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

We are breaking questions into three areas: 'Football and Community development' for questions relating to the work of the ZRF and football in the community, 'Zesh Rehman - My Career' for questions of Zesh and his own career and 'Asian Football Participation' for questions directly related to building a career within the sport. Please state which category you wish to put your question under when submitting.

The final date for questions to be submitted will be 24th June 2013.

A summary report of the event will be published for all interested parties shortly after the event.


Grassroots football in Surrey has been given a helping hand following a £5,000 Grow the Game grant, from the Football Foundation, the country's largest sports charity.

The grant will allow the Zesh Rehman Foundation (ZRF) to develop 3 new junior teams which will be made up of a mixture of boys and girls. The funding, which will be spread over the next two seasons, will also help up-skill 6 coaches and officials.

Grow the Game funding increases participation in our national game by helping clubs to provide opportunities for new players, or training volunteers to support new players and teams. So far Grow the Game has awarded 874 separate grants worth around £4.2m to grassroots football clubs.

Riz Rehman, Operations Manager at the ZRF said: "We are pleased to have received this funding from the Football Foundation.

"We have over a 100 children who attend our weekly drop in sessions and many of whom have not had an opportunity to play for junior teams.

"We understand the positive impact which team sports can have on the lives of children in terms of building their social skills and confidence.

"Many children inspire to become professional footballers but our philosophy will be based on developing all-rounded individuals and stressing the importance of balancing sport and education.

"This funding will hopefully create a legacy within the community and further motivate others to get involved".

Paul Thorogood, Chief Executive of the Football Foundation, said: "Grow the Game has become one of the Foundation's most popular schemes.

"This additional funding provided by The FA is excellent news for grassroots clubs seeking to start new teams and get their volunteer coaches qualified with FA coaching badges.

"Congratulations to the Zesh Rehman Foundation for working with the Surrey Football Association to secure their £5,000 Grow the Game grant which will increase participation in the region as well as support football development in the area."



The Zesh Rehman Foundation launched its Sidelined-2-Sidelines initiative in association with QPR In the Community Trust and Chelsea FC Foundation on Sunday 12th May. Fully backed by the Premier League and the PFA, the initiative is looking to provide skills and mentoring to aspiring coaches of Asian heritage.

The programme aims to increase participation levels and awareness of coaching within the Asian community in the hope that more Asian coaches will undertake professional qualifications and be inspired to get more involved within both the professional and grass roots game.

The launch event saw 25 aspiring young coaches attend a preliminary session at Chelsea's Cobham training ground with the Chelsea Foundation (Ladies First Team Manager - Rob Udberg) and 25 attend at the QPR Acadmey Training Ground in Hounslow.

The 50 aspiring young coaches will also get the opportunity to work closely with mentors from a host of clubs including Chelsea, QPR, West Ham, WBA, Barnsley, Fulham, as well as, experienced coach educators from the FA and PFA.

Riz Rehman of the ZRF said: "We've had a huge amount of interest from young people across London.

"The participants who have been chosen have shown a determination and passion to develop personally and acquire the skill sets to become better coaches and role models within their community.

"We have always felt that in order to see more British Asians playing within the professional game we first need to have a pool of suitably qualified coaches who can develop provisions within predominantly Asian communities.

"The support we have had from the Chelsea, QPR, the Premier League and PFA has been brilliant and we hope to deliver this initiative with other clubs across the country".

Head of the Chelsea Foundation, Simon Taylor said: "We hope to see many of the young people from the programme getting more involved with the coaching side of the game and working hard to develop their skills and getting their coaching badges.

"Our Asian Star programme has shown what a huge appetite there is for the game within the Asian community and it would be great to see more coaches from Asian backgrounds coming through the ranks and inspiring more and more players".

QPR's Social Inclusion Manager, Gareth Dixon said: "It's a great start to the programme.

Everyone in attendance was passionate about the programme and we at QPR are looking forward to supporting the coaches through their journey".

Raya Ahmed, 16, who is one of three females on the programme said: "I've always had a passion for playing but only recently thought about coaching when my younger brothers joined the ZRF Soccer School in Tooting.

"Having the opportunity to visit the Chelsea training ground to listen to and meet mentors who share a similar background to me has motivated me further to become a coach and role model to younger children".

Assad Farid, 18, from London Bridge said: "I first came across the work of the Zesh Rehman Foundation when Paul Davis from the PFA came to our college to talk about coaching pathways.

"I recently saw Riz talking about the S2S programme on Sky Sports News and knew I wanted to be a part of it.

"Today was inspiring for me as I met other like-minded individuals and mentors such as Liton from West Ham and Manraj from MK Dons who I aspire to be like".

To find out more about Sidelined-2-Sidelines programme click here.


Former Arsenal player Paul Davis


Paul Davis, formerly of Arsenal and current Senior Coach Educator at the Professional Footballers' Association (PFA), gave 'Sidelined-to-Sidelines' his seal of approval.

'Sidelined-2-Sidelines', funded by the PFA and Premier League, is a coach education programme delivered in partnership with the Chelsea FC Foundation and QPR FC In The Community Trust.

The programme is currently aimed at encouraging young people from South Asian backgrounds to pursue a career in coaching by offering recognized coaching qualifications and the potential to gain employment within the football industry.

"It's a fantastic initiative," said Paul Davis.

"There is a lot of talk with regards to the lack of Black and Asian managers or coaches at the moment, so it is important to make sure we encourage and welcome under-represented groups into the coaching structures.

"Coaches on the project will pick up a great amount of knowledge from attending the workshops which will be delivered by individuals and organisations who are experts in this field.

"I have known Zesh for many years, and I'm sure the work he is doing will inspire individuals for not only his own community but children and young people from all backgrounds as someone who has worked tirelessly to achieve his own dreams".

The programme cannot guarantee participants an elite level job upon completion but there is subsequent career advice on hand so that those who take part obtain not only their relevant qualifications but also an enhanced CV and the practical skills needed when delivering coaching sessions within their respective communities.

One mentor offering his help on the project is Samir Butt, who has previously coached at a Bradford City FC Academy. "The mentors will be a phone call, text or email away, guiding and supporting the coaches on their journey," said Samir.

Courses vary from the recognised football coaching badges: FA Level 1, 2 and UEFA B to qualifications in scouting and refereeing.

Fancy a career in football coaching? Find out more here.




The Zesh Rehman Foundation (ZRF) were the worthy winners of the 'Community Project of the Year' award at the prestigious Pro-Active London 2013 Awards.

The awards were held at the Kia Oval Cricket Ground and celebrate the contribution of individuals and organisations across London who help others take part in sport. The awards are run by the five Pro-Active partnerships in the East, Central, North, South and West of London and they are part of the National County Sports Partnerships Network.

The ZRF launched its 'Play the Game' project in February 2012 in association with Crystal Palace FC and the project attracts young people between the ages of 14-24. The main aim of the project was to create structured football opportunities for young people from BME backgrounds and offer these groups access to other pathways such as coaching and volunteering.

Riz Rehman, Operations Manager at the ZRF was presented the award by Sported London Regional Manager Lekan Ojumu. Riz said: "It is a huge honour to have been awarded this award ahead of some other organisations who deliver some excellent work across London.

"Credit must go to all the staff at Pro-Active South London, Crystal Palace FC Foundation, Bangladeshi Welfare Association of Croydon who have all been fully supportive of our work since we started, and of course the young people who attend every week.

"It is pleasing to have met so many inspiring individuals and organisations who share the same values as we do and we look forward to delivering more sessions across London with our partners".

The ZRF sessions in Croydon attract around 80 young participants weekly and the popularity of the activities led to the ZRF starting an 11 a-side team called ZRF Knights FC who participate in the Croydon Municipal League. Over the last twelve months 15 young people have been developed as coaches and role models who all now deliver at ZRF projects across South London.

Christine Double, Director of Pro-Active London South continued: "The ZRF deserve the recognition for all its hard work in providing access to sport for under-represented groups from disadvantaged communities.

"It's a great achievement as there were some very strong projects from across London who were also nominated but the panel chose the project which they felt made a huge difference.

"Riz and his team are so pro-active and we are pleased to be working closely with them to offer more opportunities to young people across South London.

"The ZRF has an understanding of the Croydon Religious-cultural landscape and its ability to engage with communities whom we have previously had little connection.

To find out more about the 'Play the Game' programme click here.



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