Shadab Iftikhar joins Fort William to become Scotland's first senior manager of South Asian heritage

Shadab Iftikhar to join Highland League side Fort William until the end of the season; former Mongolia assistant holds a UEFA A Licence coaching qualification; Iftikhar worked as an opposition scout for Roberto Martinez during Belgium's Euro 2020 campaign

Please use Chrome browser for a more accessible video player

Fort William boss Shadab Iftikhar opens up about his appointment at the Highland League club, discusses what it was like to manage in Mongolia and what he learned while working with Belgium boss Roberto Martinez

Fort William have appointed the first manager of South Asian heritage in senior Scottish football.

Shadab Iftikhar will take charge of the Highland League side until the end of the season, with the option for a further year, in what is a landmark appointment by the club.

The former Mongolia assistant holds a UEFA A Licence coaching qualification and worked as an opposition scout for Roberto Martinez during Belgium's Euro 2020 campaign.

Shebab  Iftikhar has worked under Roberto Martinez at Wigan, Everton and Belgium
Image: Iftikhar has worked under Roberto Martinez at Wigan, Everton and Belgium

Asked if he hopes his historic appointment as a South Asian can inspire others, Shadab told Sky Sports News: "Absolutely, I was shocked when I heard that. I'm still in shock, to be honest with you [that I'm the first South Asian managerial appointment in senior Scottish football].

"Football has to reflect society. We know it's time for change, we know that different things need to happen in the game. We've all got to work together to tackle the problem, and make sure that we continue to fight consistently, every day to show what the beautiful game of football should look like.

"I'm sure with the work that's going on from different people that, one day, football will be a reflection of society."

The 32-year-old added: "I would like to thank the board for giving me this opportunity and trusting me with this project.

Also See:

"Despite not being able to play home games at Claggan [the pitch was deemed unplayable], I promise one thing, I will work as hard as possible to give the club, the fans and the town something to be proud of."

Learning under Martinez

Roberto Martinez has refused to comment on his future
Image: Martinez worked with Iftikhar after meeting him during a coaching course

Iftikhar's partnership with Martinez began when he was introduced to then Wigan boss during his FA Level 2 coaching course.

After impressing, Iftikhar was soon writing scouting reports about the Latics' opposition and followed Martinez to Everton.

He then became reserve manager at non-League Hesketh Bank, before becoming first-team boss.

After completing his UEFA A Licence, Iftikhar moved to Mongolia to take charge of New Mongol Bayangol following their rise to the nation's Premier League. He also became assistant manager of the Mongolian national team.

GLASGOW, SCOTLAND - SEPTEMBER 9:  Belgium during a UEFA Euro 2020 qualifier between Scotland and Belgium, at Hampden Park, on September 9, 2019, in Glasgow, Scotland. (Photo by Craig Williamson / SNS Group)
Image: Iftikhar was part of the Belgium coaching team at Euro 2020

He returned to England to work as an academy coach before heading abroad again to take over at Vailima Kiwi FC in the Samoa national league.

Last summer he joined up with Martinez again as part of the Belgium manager's coaching staff at Euro 2020.

Punjabi Rams win Fans for Diversity Award

The Punjabi Rams were crowned winners of the Fans for Diversity award at the 2021 Football Supporters' Association Awards in London on Monday night.

Derby County have something to celebrate as the Punjabi Rams land prestigious Fans for Diversity award
Image: Derby County have something to celebrate as the Punjabi Rams land prestigious Fans for Diversity award

The group, who are an official Derby County supporters' club, landed the accolade ahead of AFC Autism, Apna England, Lady Imps, Love Football Hate Racism and Pride in Football.

The Punjabi Rams ran mental health sessions for supporters during lockdown before embarking upon a fundraising drive for the charity MIND. The group also supported Derby County's foodbank appeal earlier this year and started a free ticket campaign to get children and low-income families into Pride Park.

Please use Chrome browser for a more accessible video player

Derby County Women's star Kira Rai says she feels blessed to have the support of official club fans group the Punjabi Rams who she describes as 'her community within her club'

Earlier this month on Diwali, Sky Sports News exclusively revealed the Punjabi Rams were extending their commitment to Derby County Women's side by stepping in to become a shirt sleeve sponsor for the team.

Punjabi Rams member Jay Mann told Sky Sports News: "This is an incredible achievement for us as a group and testament to the fantastic support that the club and the Derby County fans have shown us.

Singh to join FA

The Football Association has appointed Navin Singh as its new commercial director.

Singh will begin his new role early in 2022 after spending the last five years as chief commercial officer of the United States Golf Association.

"It's a huge honour to be joining the Football Association," said Singh.

Please use Chrome browser for a more accessible video player

Former Football League referee Jarnail Singh says he wants to inspire all ethnically diverse referees, not just his sons Sunny and Bhupinder Singh, who are the country's two highest-ranked South Asian heritage match officials

"I'm excited to work with my new colleagues and our important commercial partners in supporting the FA's ambitious new strategic vision - from helping our teams to be successful in major tournaments to building on our direct relationships with fans.

"I'm also particularly excited by the commitment to women's football and want to add to the considerable work being done to take it to the next level."

England could lose out on Man Utd's Zidane Iqbal

England face the prospect of missing out on Manchester United teenager Zidane Iqbal, with Iraqi football chiefs keen to secure the teenager's services at senior international level, Sky Sports News can reveal.

The attacking midfielder was called up to play for the Iraqi U23 side at October's WAFF (West Asian Football Federation) Championship, helping them reach the semi-finals before their elimination to Saudi Arabia. Iqbal also featured against United Arab Emirates, and took the captain's armband before scoring against Lebanon.

Please use Chrome browser for a more accessible video player

Gareth Southgate welcomed the push for greater Asian representation across football as he appeared alongside Hamza Choudhury and Manchester United starlet Zidane Iqbal in an FA video series during South Asian Heritage Month

Manchester-born Iqbal is eligible to represent England, Iraq and Pakistan but has yet to be called up to an England age-group squad, despite spending more than a decade with United and establishing himself as a regular member of their U23 squad.

The 18-year-old netted for the club's youngsters against Sunderland in the EFL Trophy, and followed that up by scoring United's opener in their 4-2 UEFA Youth League win against Italian side Atalanta.

British South Asians in Football

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

Win £250,000 with Super 6!

Win £250,000 with Super 6!

Another Saturday, another chance to win £250,000 with Super 6. Play for free, entries by 3pm.

Around Sky