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South Asians in Football: Wembley Stadium to host first-of-its-kind women’s player timeline at Vaisakhi and Ramadan events

Football Association to host Vaisakhi and Ramadan events at Wembley Stadium; some of the country's best South Asian heritage footballers attending; first timeline and showcase capturing the history of female players from the community in the English game will go on display at Wembley

Mills, Sim, Maz
Image: Capturing the imagination and inspiring the next generation

A first-of-its-kind timeline and showcase of South Asian heritage female players in the modern English game will go on display at two FA faith and football events at Wembley Stadium.

The third major Ramadan football celebration in north London over the last fortnight takes place at the home of English football on Saturday. It follows on from the first Ramadan Iftar at Tottenham's home stadium, hosted by supporters' group Spurs REACH, which came 24 hours after Arsenal held a masterclass alongside the PFA for South Asian heritage coaches, with an Iftar meal served after sunset.

Wembley also hosts a Vaisakhi celebration on Monday, with almost 2000 people of all faiths expected to attend both events. The Vaisakhi event will see Ardaas, which is a Sikh prayer, take place pitch side next to the Wembley turf for the very first time.

Sky Sports celebrated the anniversary of its partnership with the charity Sporting Equals by creating a timeline documenting the history of players from South Asian backgrounds that have broken through in the modern-day women's game in leagues across Britain.

Britain's first turbaned Sikh Member of Parliament, Tan Dhesi, visited the showcase at Singh Sabha Sports Centre in his home constituency of Slough, ahead of the exhibition being transported to Wembley Stadium.

Dhesi told Sky Sports News: "This exhibition is incredibly important, and everyone is very proud to see it hosted at Singh Sabha Slough Sports Centre, which is a major hub of activity for young people, especially those of South Asian heritage.

"And when they come along and see this exhibition, they now have role models [that they never knew existed] that they too can aspire to be like and emulate. They can go away thinking 'if she can do it, why can't I?'

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"Representation matters and it does not matter what sphere that is in. It's wonderful to see the advances that South Asian heritage female players have made, particularly in the last decade."

Tan Dhesi timeline
Image: Tan Dhesi MP visited the first-of-its-kind timeline and showcase at Singh Sabha Sports Centre in his home constituency of Slough

Dhesi added: "Congratulations also to the FA and Wembley Stadium for hosting these events, which is very much welcomed by faith communities."

The timeline has been curated by FA Level 2 scout and journalist Dev Trehan, who will talk guests at both events through the journey of South Asian women in the game, the work that has gone into creating the ground-breaking timeline, and why the project can be a game-changer for English football.

Unveiled at Chelsea Football Club's Stamford Bridge stadium at the end of last month after an initial pilot at century-old west London sports club Gymkhana, it forms part of a wider showcase with Sporting Equals that also profiles four role model players from the community who are currently plying their trade in women's league football.

One of the players highlighted is Derby County's Kira Rai, who features alongside Haringey's Sandeep Tak on a panel hosted by Sky News' Amrit Singh Mann.

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Derby County Women's winger Kira Rai says she feels lucky to enjoy the support of fans' group the Punjabi Rams.

Rai, who said she felt honoured to be invited to speak at the Vaisakhi event at Wembley Stadium, hopes the timeline and showcase can capture the imagination and become a platform to improve diversity and representation in the women's game.

"To feature alongside some fabulous South Asian women as part of the history of the English women's game is a matter of huge pride for me, my family and my football club," the Sikh-Punjabi attacker said.

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Founder of the Punjabi Rams official Derby County supporters' group explains the significance of the Vaisakhi festival and why it is important to work with clubs to mark such occasions.

"We know women's football is not as diverse as it should be, and I want to play my part to help change that. I hope this inspires the next generation and gives talented girls who look like me the belief that they can also make it in the game."

England youth international Simran Jhamat, who plays for Coventry United and will also be speaking at the Vaisakhi event, added: "It's amazing to be involved in this legacy project. Seeing is believing - and I hope this inspires children and parents alike.

"We all want to see more South Asian players come through so that we can be confident when we say that it doesn't matter what race or religion you are and that football is for everyone."

Speaking at the inaugural Women's Copa Del CL charity tournament at St George's Park, former England international and non-independent director of the FA Women's National Board Eartha Pond hailed the timeline as a celebration of "greatness" in the game.

"I'm lucky enough to have played at every level from centres of excellence, to academies, to the elite level to England and I have seen the transition. I played with a lot of South Asian players, even from grassroots level at 14. They have been playing and I just don't think it has been captured.

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A first-of-its-kind timeline documenting the history of South Asian heritage female players in modern English football has been launched, hoping to inspire a new generation.

"So it's great to see the showcase, very, very pleasing. It's just about celebrating, there is so much greatness within the game, and it's not just about diversity in terms of colour, it's also about diversity in terms of mindset, experiences, and cultures. That's what Britain brings."

The timeline and wider display features 20 current and former footballers from South Asian backgrounds, who have blazed a trail in the game.

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Muslimah Sports Association Chair and London FA director Yashmin Harun welcomes the guidance issued to match officials to create an opportunity to allow Muslim players to break their fast during evening games across the holy period.

Muslimah Sports Association chair and FA National Game Board member Yashmin Harun said the players featured are helping turn dreamers into believers.

"It's very important to understand the history of South Asian female players in the game and reflect on their journeys for us to get to where we want to get to in terms of making elite women's football more diverse and representative of the nation," she said.

Millie Chandarana, Sam Kerr, Mariam Mahmood

"These inspiring women are brilliant role models, who are changing the way we look at the game and are paving the way for the next generation to thrive. They are turning dreamers into believers and it's important to shine a light on them and celebrate the achievements."

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Bik and Micky Singh, founders of award-winning official Birmingham City supporters' club Blues 4 All, deliver a Vaisakhi message for Sky Sports viewers from St Andrew's.

QPR's Manisha Tailor, who was awarded an MBE in 2017 for services to football and diversity in sport, said the visibility the exhibition provides can make all the difference to talented South Asian girls who are already in the system.

"It's brilliant because what it allows for is us to see that actually we do exist, and we are here, and there is a space for people like myself, who are looking to forge a career in the game," Tailor told Sky Sports News.

"With all these brilliant pioneers and players that are represented on these brilliant infographics - what that will do is inspire other young girls who are coming through the talent pathway to actually believe that it is possible for them to have a career in the game, and that is all we want. It's really important we have visible role models who can then inspire the next generation of young South Asian girls."

British South Asians in Football

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

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