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Wolves kid Kam Kandola in children's book published in South Asian Heritage Month | Arjan Raikhy set to join Leicester

Wolves youngster Kam Kandola has story profiled in PL-commissioned children's football activity book published in South Asian Heritage Month featuring South Asians in Football quiz and multiple-choice trivia questions; fellow Sikh-Punjabi Arjan Raikhy set to complete Leicester City switch

Kam Kandola
Image: Kam Kandola is one of the most gifted British South Asian youngsters in English football

Wolves defender Kam Kandola features in a first-of-its-kind children's football activity book published during South Asian Heritage Month.

Sikh-Punjabi central defender Kandola, 19, is Wolverhampton born and bred, and has played across every age group for Wolves as he chases his dream of playing in the Premier League for his hometown club.

Kandola, who went to Thomas Telford - the same school attended by 2021 Aston Villa FA Youth Cup winner Arjan Rakhy - is featured in the book alongside Arsenal senior academy physiotherapist Zubair Haleem and Southampton assistant academy director Natasha Patel.

The children's activity book, called 'All Stars', is produced by Big Ideas and accompanies a 'Day in the Life' video made by The Media Group, aiming to recognise and honour players and practitioners of South Asian heritage, who form part of football's current workforce. Both were commissioned by the Premier League as part of their work for the 2022/23 season under their first-ever South Asian Action Plan (SAAP).

A concise history of the British South Asian footballers who have graced the Premier League, written by Sky Sports' British South Asians in Football journalist Dev Trehan, also features in the book.

Trehan has also penned a series of South Asians in Football quiz and multiple-choice trivia questions called Get Smart with Dev, which are appearing in print format for the very first time.

The activity books were presented to children taking part in Thursday's Premier League Emerging Talent festival at Loughborough - which saw teams comprised predominantly of South Asian players (U9-U12) representing Arsenal, Manchester United, Aston Villa, Leicester City, Leeds United and West Ham United.

More from South Asians In Football

Thursday's event was held after the clubs involved held trial days, and built on last year's Emerging Talent Festivals held with West Ham and Leicester City, as well as a Talent ID summit at Villa Park.

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Dave Rainford, Head of Education and Academy Player Care, says the Premier League will do more to try and help boost the number of British South Asians playing at elite level

The Premier League says it is committed to creating environments for young people to achieve their best on and off the pitch, with the historic and current under-representation of South Asian players in academies and the professional game identified as a priority area within the organisation's No Room for Racism Action Plan.

'A tremendous moment'

Speaking exclusively to Sky Sports News, Kam's father said: "As a family and as a community, we are all immensely proud of Kam, who has shown exemplary commitment and dedication to try and make it at the highest level.

"Kam has been brilliantly supported by people at every level of the football club, and we are especially grateful to the Wolves coaches and academy staff who have put their faith in Kam's ability.

"It really is a tremendous moment to see his story appear in print like this. We all hope it can help inspire the current and future generations of British South Asians in English football."

'What's needed is more exposure'

The Punjabi Wolves told Sky Sports News: "This is brilliant. It's very much needed and well overdue. South Asian players have not been highlighted enough.

"What the Punjabi Wolves have managed to do in the stands [by improving diversity and representation] is what we want to see happen on the pitch. For whatever reason - that's not happening.

"What's needed is more exposure, more people reading and more people inspired because the door is now slightly ajar. Before, it wasn't."

Leicester to add Raikhy to their ranks

Arjan Raikhy FA Youth Cup final
Image: Arjan Raikhy produced a stunning performance in Aston Villa's 2021 FA Youth Cup triumph

Leicester City are poised to announce the signing of FA Youth Cup winner and former Aston Villa midfielder Arjan Raikhy, Sky Sports News can exclusively reveal.

Sky Sports News revealed earlier this month that Punjabi wonderkid Raikhy was set to decide upon his future, amid interest in his services from clubs across the divisions. Raikhy is expected to initially link up with Leicester's U21s.

Raikhy shot to prominence after a wonder goal against Chelsea for Villa's U18s back in November 2020.

The technically-gifted midfielder made his senior first-team debut just two months later in an FA Cup third-round tie against Liverpool, a moment described by supporters' group Punjabi Villans as "incredible".

Raikhy ended a memorable season by setting up Ben Chrisene's opener in a 2-1 victory against Liverpool as Villa's U18s lifted the FA Youth Cup.

Arjan Raikhy turns away and smiles as Grimsby players celebrate
Image: Arjan Raikhy turns away and smiles as Grimsby players celebrate a goal in the play-off final at Wembley

The central midfielder enjoyed another productive campaign the following season as he earned the distinction of helping two teams - Stockport County and Grimsby Town - get promoted back to the Football League during two separate loan spells.

Despite impressing for Villa during their winter break in Dubai ahead of last year's World Cup, Raikhy was one of eight players - including Ashley Young and Jed Steer - released at the end of last season.

Raikhy attends Sporting Khalsa vs Punjab United

Raikhy and fellow Sikh-Punjabi professional footballer Mal Benning appeared at an event earlier this month to celebrate South Asians in The Game, held ahead of Sporting Khalsa's pre-season friendly against Punjab United.

Both clubs came together with the Football Association and Three Lions to make 200 match tickets available to the community for free, with a showcase event held beforehand - shining a light on players from South Asian backgrounds, who have shattered the glass ceiling to play competitive football in England.

Guests enjoyed a Talent ID taster session and had the opportunity to learn more about the players that featured in a first-of-its-kind Team of the Season, created by Sky Sports News journalist and FA Level 2 scout Dev Trehan and Desi Ballers founder Zohaib Rashid.

Arjan Raikhy Dev Trehan South Asians in Football Team of the Season
Image: Arjan Raikhy with Sky Sports News' Dev Trehan and the South Asians in Football Team of the Season at Sporting Khalsa FC

Sporting Khalsa's game with Punjab United was the third annual fixture for the two teams, with the match fittingly ending 3-3 after Punjab United mounted a late comeback from 3-1 down to earn a share of the spoils.

A traditional Punjabi drummer had earlier led the teams onto the pitch for a match that was officiated by the first turbaned Sikh referee in English football league history, Jarnail Singh.

Singh, whose elder son Sunny Singh Gill is the country's highest-ranked British South Asian referee, presided over the game as part of a South Asian officiating crew, with the aim of showcasing refereeing talent and pathways into the game.

FA to recruit and retain 1000 diverse refs

Meanwhile, The Football Association will unveil ambitious new plans to recruit and retain 1,000 new referees from diverse backgrounds in the next three years, Sky Sports News can exclusively reveal, in the hope of drastically changing the culture of grassroots football.

The landmark new FA strategy will be launched on Thursday, with the aim of encouraging more people from under-represented communities to consider getting involved in football, and refereeing.

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Sky Sports News' Rob Dorsett breaks the story that the FA are launching an initiative to recruit and retain 1,000 new referees from diverse backgrounds in the next three years

Whilst the Professional Game Match Officials Ltd (PGMOL) organises referees and assistants at the elite level, it is nonetheless supportive of this new FA initiative, in the hope that more black and South Asian referees will make it into the professional game in future.

British South Asians in Football

For more stories, features and videos, visit our groundbreaking South Asians in Football page on skysports.com and South Asians in the Game blog and stay tuned to Sky Sports News and our Sky Sports digital platforms.

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