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Ex-West Ham man says British Asians need to realise football isn’t just “Match of the Day”

By Simon Crowe

AN EX-West Ham United footballer has criticised a report that suggests one of reasons behind the small number of British Asians in football is down to the lack of role models.

Anwar Uddin, here playing for Barnet.

Dr Dan Kilvington, a Senior Lecturer in Media and Cultural Studies at Leeds Beckett University, has set out a series of recommendations in tackling the lack of British Asian footballers in the English football pyramid.

His work revealed the severe lack of British Asian footballers in the English game. Only 10 footballers play professionally in England, out of an approximate 4,000 players, despite a British Asian population in the UK of 3.6 million.

The report, which has taken over a decade to curate, highlighted a number of reasons for the lack of British Asians in English football and one of the reasons being the absence of role models.

However Anwar Uddin, who used to play for the Hammers, says that claim ‘doesn’t wash with me anymore’.

He argued while he was playing there was several role models and highlighted success stories like himself, Danny Batth and Michael Chopra as recent examples.

He said: “How many role models do you want? One role model, two role models – that’s enough to show people it’s viable you can do it.”

Anwar believes the problem is the Asian community focusing on the elite level of English football. He doesn’t believe the community champion existing British Asian footballers enough at lower levels.

He said: “The Asian community need to wake up and realise that football isn’t just Match of the Day, football is 92 football clubs, football is non-league football.

“When I was at West Ham everyone wanted me to be everywhere, everyone wanted to talk to me, there was a spotlight on me and the minute I moved to Bristol Rovers it was literally like I fell of the face of the earth.”

Dr Dan Kilvington disputes this and believes there is a need for someone to be playing at the top of English football, at one of the top Premier League clubs or England.

He added: “That would gain huge exposure and people will jump on the back of it and that will really challenge people’s assumptions that British Asians don’t play football or that they aren’t good enough or strong enough.”

What do you think?