It was a night of celebration in Bradford last Wednesday (2 March 2016) as the Bangla Bantams and Shapla Football Club held their one-year anniversary awards ceremony to acknowledge the individuals and teams who have played a part in their success to date.
The Royal Taj Banqueting Suite in Bradford hosted over two hundred people of all ages from across the community, where a number were handed awards for their achievements to date.
The Bangla Bantams and Shapla FC were formed to help the local South Asian Community promote and increase sports participation – for both boys and girls – in the Bradford area.
Both projects were set up with help from the Fans For Diversity (FFD) campaign fund, which is jointly run by Kick It Out and the Football Supporters Federation (FSF).
Bantams winger Mark Marshall was on hand to show his backing and spoke on stage alongside Anwar Uddin, the FSF’s Diversity and Campaigns Manager.
Mark said: “The local community are trying to get more Asian people to participate in sports and it looks like it’s working, across the age groups. In the future I think there will be more Asian professional footballers.
“To see the dedication of those involved is really encouraging and I can only see it getting bigger and better.”
The Bangla Bantams would like to express their appreciation at the support they have received from Bradford City so far and for the attendance of Mark at the awards evening.
The link with Bradford City is a crucial one as the club continues to encourage the Asian community to attend games to support Phil Parkinson’s side.
Ian Ormondroyd, Manager at Bradford City FC’s Community Foundation, was impressed by the evening and added: “From our point of view it is fantastic to see the local community attending matches.
“We want as many people as possible to come and support Bradford City. With the city having such a diverse and multi-cultural population it’s important, and to also find an Asian player in the future as well.
“It is improving on the terraces with the number of Asian fans so it’s getting better all the time.”
Since their inception, Shapla and Bangla Bantams have run several initiatives with the local South Asian community, including an array of grassroots projects for boys and girls, for a number of sports alongside football.
Humayun Islam, one of the co-founders of Shapla FC and Bangla Bantams, was proud of the achievements to date and how so many local people and supporters gathered to mark the occasion.
“It was a fantastic night,” he said with a wide smile. “It was all about the youth and that’s what we want to come across through the partnership work we do.
“As a result of events like this, with kids receiving medals, they will become inspired and they’re our future generations.
“Not all will become professional footballers, but they can be the volunteers and coaches of the future. They will see sport as another option for them.
“It is about understanding our differences but discovering our similarities through football. That’s what we do. With football there are no barriers.”
Humayun juggles his many responsibilities for Shapla FC and Bangla Bantams alongside a full-time job and family commitments.
“We’re giving back to the community and we want to show integration and inclusion, to show those British values, and to show our support for our local team in Bradford City.”
Anwar Uddin has provided support for both projects and he was delighted with the turnout and support from the local community.
“It was fantastic to see so many people from across the Bradford community coming together for one night to celebrate what’s been achieved to date.
“It’s also pleasing to see the Asian community demonstrating their support for their local club.”