Southall FC chairman Sanjeev Sharma hopes club is one step closer to returning home as female footballers flock to Southall for free girls' football event; Punjabi Spurs and Punjabi Villans link up for Eye Can charity walk; Otis Khan to headline football network event at Leyton Orient
Tuesday 5 April 2022 08:13, UK
Southall FC's efforts to return home have been handed a boost after Ealing Council opened a public consultation on the future of Warren Farm Sports Centre.
QPR identified Warren Farm in Southall as their preferred site to build a new training centre over a decade ago, before eventually opting to redevelop a 27-acre site in nearby Heston, bought from Imperial College.
Southall FC's old Western Road ground was knocked down to make way for social housing 30 years ago and the club - founded in 1871 - have not played in Southall since, with home matches currently being played at the home of Ashford Town in Stanwell.
Southall FC chairman Sanjeev Sharma said it is time to bring the historic football club home, and ensure the local community can enjoy access to quality sporting facilities.
"All of us at Southall Football Club are delighted and optimistic about the opening of Ealing Council's online consultation on the future of Warren Farm Sports Centre as it is a step closer for our 150-year-old club to return to Southall," Sharma told Sky Sports News.
"Warren Farm was a hub for football in west London but has been derelict for a number of years. We feel this is an opportunity to bring Southall FC home, which will also support our diverse and predominantly South Asian community to excel in sports and truly break down barriers.
"Southall FC has not played in Southall since the early 1990s and has been groundsharing on a season-by-season basis. Our community in Southall has lost out and has not had access to adequate sports facilities. We hope the supporters of the club and the local community can once again create lasting memories, and we want future generations to have a healthy future.
"I feel great passion for this project personally, as I played to a good standard when I was younger and I hope the next generation can dream like I did and achieve their goals. Southall FC belongs in Southall, which is the beating heart of the South Asian community in west London."
Southall FC said dialogue with Ealing Council is positive and ongoing, and the club are encouraging people to fill in the public consultation to air their views.
Southall FC have a number of former players who have gone on to win full international honours with England, including current QPR director of football Les Ferdinand, former West Ham midfielder Alan Devonshire and ex-Manchester United winger Gordon Hill.
Freestyle footballer Kaljit Atwal joined Derby's Kira Rai and Blackburn's Millie Chandarana at the Seeing is Believing girls' community football event in Southall.
Bavaria-born Atwal wowed youngsters in attendance with tricks, flicks and nutmegs galore at the event hosted by west London multi-sports club Indian Gymkhana at Featherstone Sports Centre.
The trio hosted skills sessions alongside Arsenal sports scientist Nav Singh, Brentford B Team footballer Harpreet Heer, and Gymkhana coaches at the free event - with parents travelling from as far afield as Essex and Kent to give their children the opportunity to build their confidence by meeting role models in the game.
Sky Sports and Sporting Equals devised the Seeing is Believing girls' football pilot project for century-old west London sports club Gymkhana, aimed at encouraging more South Asian female participation in the game.
Sky has teamed up with Sporting Equals to support one of the charity's ambitions of inspiring more opportunities for British South Asians in football.
The Punjabi Spurs and Punjabi Villans supporters' groups have joined forces for a charity walk from the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium to Villa Park to support people living with sight loss.
The groups had raised more than £2,500 for the Eye Can charity before embarking upon the 120-mile journey on foot from north London to Birmingham on Monday.
"This will be our way of supporting Eye Can's goals and help grow awareness for the support available for people living with sight loss," the Punjabi Spurs and Punjabi Villans said in a joint statement.
"We hope to encourage and promote healthy life choices and positive action with this trek."
They were sent on their way by ex-Spurs and Aston Villa winger David Ginola and former Tottenham captain Ledley King. Villa host Spurs in the Premier League on Saturday, with the groups set to arrive at Villa Park in time for the kick-off.
January signing Otis Khan will join a panel of decision-makers and practitioners across the game when Leyton Orient hosts the South Asian Football Network event on Monday.
The free event at the Breyer Group Stadium in the heart of east London will be hosted by Paul Kirton from Grassroots Football UK, and Soccer Social LDN, in association with the Fans for Diversity campaign.
The Fans for Diversity campaign is a joint initiative run by the Football Supporters' Association and Kick It Out, whose chief executive Tony Burnett will also be speaking.
Other confirmed panellists include FA board member Rupinder Bains, West Ham academy link mentor Rashid Abba, QPR assistant head of coaching Manisha Tailor and Maidstone United manager Hakan Hatteyrin.
The event features Q&A sessions and will provide opportunities to network with people from grassroots football right through to the professional game and the boardroom. An Iftar meal will also be provided for guests after sunset with the event falling during the holy month of Ramadan.
Sky Sports announced a partnership with Sporting Equals last month to support one of the charity's ambitions of inspiring more opportunities for British South Asians in football.
The partnership stems from a shared desire to help tackle under-representation by addressing some of the barriers affecting the participation and progression of British South Asian football talent, particularly in the women's game.
Active Lives survey data has consistently shown that South Asian women are the least physically active group in the country, and just 0.3 per cent of players in the top division of English women's football, the FA Women's Super League, hail from the British South Asian community.
Moving forward, Sky and Sporting Equals will work together to raise awareness and educate the public on this topic, collaborating with other stakeholders to create opportunities for talent to flourish, and supporting participation in the game.
Jonathan Licht, managing director of Sky Sports, said: "Sky Sports is proud to give a platform to help inspire more opportunities for the South Asian community to get involved in football.
"Collectively we are striving for greater equality in sport and, as Europe's largest sports broadcaster, we're well placed to highlight under-representation in the game and use our platforms to drive change in this space.
"Building on the excellent job Sky Sports News has done over the past year, the partnership with Sporting Equals is a step further in our commitment to ensuring all audiences feel represented by our content."
Sporting Equals chief executive, Arun Kang OBE, said: "Sporting Equals is pleased to be partnering with Sky on this important work, which is a significant step towards engaging and celebrating South Asian communities in football, by removing outdated and negative stereotypes to inspire the next generation of players, coaches and football administrators.
"It is vital to highlight viable role models, which we will be doing through this project by showcasing football ambassadors, particularly South Asian females throughout community settings. With the support of Sky through this partnership we will seek to tackle these issues and demonstrate the true capabilities of South Asians in football."
British South Asians in Football
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