Almost 400 youngsters take part in Chelsea’s Asian Star initiative

Almost 400 youngsters from across the country took part in Chelsea’s Asian Star initiative, which aims to boost participation in football among the British Asian population.

The children, in under-nine to under-12 age groups, took part in a series of matches and tests specifically designed and used by the Chelsea Academy to examine speed, skill and ability.

They were guided through the day at the club’s Cobham training ground by coaches from the Chelsea FC and Zesh Rehman Foundations.

Four winners in each age group were invited to join the Chelsea Foundation’s Football Development Centres.

Qasim Khan, from Harrow, was crowned the champion in the under-12 category.

He said: “I didn’t expect it but I thought I played well and some of my team-mates thought I would get it, but when I heard my name I was so excited.

“I like to play centre midfield and on the wing and I feel I learnt a lot from just one day at Chelsea as my movement was something the coaches immediately helped with and improved.”

Kamran Khalid (Essex), Rayhaan Majid (Birmingham) and Ibrahim Khan (Luton) were crowned champions in the other agre groups.

There were further awards handed out to Adam Khan, Shakeel Bhutta, Joshua Hodges and Gursimrantaj Singh after all four impressed the coaches during the testing phase of the day.

Prizes were presented by businessman and philanthropist Peter Virdee and previous Asian Star winner Sam Khan, who now plays for Birmingham City’s academy.

The day wasn’t all about the children as the Hub2 building also hosted a number of talks for parents.

These included presentations by the Zesh Rehman Foundation – set up by the former Fulham and QPR defender – and a presentation from the Football Association about their work developing opportunities for Asian players at all levels including coaching and refereeing.

Asian Star is now in its sixth year and Virdee, a regular supporter of the initiative, said he was really pleased with the 2014 edition.

He added: “It is a big task for Chelsea to plan and host the day and we need to give them a round of applause.

“No other clubs are doing this and it’s something we need to change as the talent is clearly out there as days like this prove.

“The winners will go on and hopefully achieve something but those who have come second and third can come back and keep trying.”

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