Six Asian-origin youngsters, including three of Indian origin, have been selected in a competition organised by the Chelsea Football Club to scout for football talent from the Asian community in the UK.

The six winners will shortly be invited to the club’s training ground in Surrey for a week-long trial at the Chelsea Academy. Any player meeting the required standards will be offered the chance to join some of the country’s most talented youngsters in the Chelsea youth system.

The competition, under the banner ‘Search for an Asian Star’, is in its second year running and the trails concluded recently. It is open to London and south-east based players from Indian, Pakistani, Sri Lankan and Bangladeshi backgrounds

This year’s winners are Yusuf Ali (under 13 group), Ahsanullah Nawazi (under 12), Yan Dhanda (under 11), Kelan Patel (under 10), Adam Aziz (under 9) and Kai Bhullar (under 8).

Kelan, whose parents are from Gujarat, is a central midfielder from Harrow. “I thought in the first test I didn’t do too well because I missed one of the parts, but the rest of them I think I did alright. My teammates were good.”

Rajpreet Bhullar, who came to the UK from Punjab, was delighted when his son, Kai, won in the youngest category. “I’m extremely proud. Football is his [Kai’s] life and we’re really happy that all the hard work has paid off,” he told BBC News.

Chelsea’s training headquarters at Cobham, a town in Surrey about 20 miles south-west of London, hosted nearly 500 young, aspiring players from the Asian community during the three-day trial held in the end of May this year. The participants were judged on a series of matches and tests specifically designed and used by the Chelsea Academy to demonstrate their speed, skills and ability.

Chelsea’s Asian initiative is the only one of its kind in the UK, aimed at inviting Asian participation in the game. According to the club’s website, the scheme is not just about finding the next superstar, it is also about breaking down barriers, showing Asian players that opportunities at all levels of the game do exist and encouraging them to maximise their potential.

Former Arsenal, Cambridge and West Brom defender Brendan Batson, who is one of the ambassadors for the event, said: “Talent is a limited resource and clubs are scouting worldwide looking for talent....it is a real mystery why we haven’t seen in the Asian community what has happened before with black players.”

Keywords: Chelsea Academy

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