On Thursday, a community initiative set up with help from Kick it Out which involved Bradford City Football Club and West Riding County FA went ahead coinciding with the launch of Shapla FC, Shapla is a local Asian community group which is based just around the corner from the Coral Windows Stadium.
Stations were set up at BEAP Community Centre and at the Coral Windows Stadium for over a hundred children from the local community to take part in activities. The BEAP community centre on Cornwall Road is just a stone’s throw from the TL Dallas Stand and the centre is over looked by the stadium.
The children were put into manageable groups where some were coached football in the centre with West Riding County FA coaches involved, some of the children would be taken on a tour of the Stadium by the Bradford City academy staff and then the final group would be taking part in educational classes in class rooms that are located in the BEAP Community Centre. The groups would of course be rotated and all the children would be involved in all the activities available to them.
The aim of the event was and is to raise Asian participation in football, in terms of children getting involved in playing the sport as well as coming to watch the sport and improve engagement and interest from within the local communities.
Troy, who is the father of Tottenham and England winger Andros Townsend, is also the Education & Development Manager for Kick it Out – the well-known organisation involved in football with the aim of tackling racism and discrimination within the game, whilst promoting equality and inclusion.
He said: "Today is just about community engagement really, we’ve got the local community from Shapla (a local community group) and what Kick it Out have managed to do, is bring the club (Bradford City) together and the (West Riding) County FA together, just to put on a day, of what I would say is celebration.
"The Asian community coming to play football and do workshops; having a tour of the football club just to show them that community engagement can be so much better. There is lots of Asian participation, we have over 100 children here today and in football I think no-one thought that you could have had an event that has over 100 Asian children and for me that’s a great, great thing.
"It shows that Asians love football just as much as anybody else and hopefully what will be born from this, is that we’ll have more Asian supporters, there will be players in the community enjoying the game and just ending this kind of stereotypical view that Asians don’t like football."
Anwar Uddin became the first person of Bangladeshi origin to play professional football in England when he signed terms with West Ham United in 2001. The 33 year old, London born, former defender went on to play for Sheffield Wednesday, Bristol Rovers, Hereford United and Telford United before spending 6 years with Dagenham & Redbridge, making close to 200 league appearances and helping them into the Football League. During this time he also became the first British Asian to captain a football club in the top four divisions of English football.
Uddin went on to play for Grays Athletic, Barnet, Sutton United and Eastbourne Borough, before his retirement from the game in June 2013 aged just 31. He had a spell coaching the juniors at former club West Ham United and he is currently assistant manager at non-league Maldon & Tiptree as well as having a full time role with the Football Supporters’ Federation as Diversity and Campaigns Manager in partnership with Kick it Out.
Anwar added: "Together we want to work across the country and look at Asian participation in terms of coaching, playing and attendances at games. We work around the country and go to different areas, I spoke to the club and they were really receptive about trying to engage with the community and what a better place than the BEAP Community Centre, which is literally a stone’s throw from the ground.
"What we did is, met with the club, met with the community, got the West Riding County FA involved and obviously kick it out and decided how we can create a day to raise awareness about what they’re doing here at the Community Centre and how we can link it with the club and ultimately create a new generation of Bradford City fans."
To hear more from Townsend and Uddin, watch our YouTube video below.