On Saturday, the PFA and Arsenal Academy held the ‘Emerging Strong, Young, South Asian Gunners’ event at the Hale End academy.
The event was delivered to help boost south Asian player representation within Arsenal's academy and encourage participation from young players hoping to break into football.
The event showcased the talents of pre-academy (7-8 years) and foundation phase (9-10 years) aged players from London and surrounding areas. Parents and guardians also had the opportunity to hear from our academy staff including Lee Herron (Head of Talent I-D), Yousuf Sajjad (Head of Emerging Talent for U17 – U23), Nav Singh (Academy Sports Scientist) Steve Brown (Lead Coordinator for U8 – U16 players) and Zubair Haleem (Senior Academy Physiotherapist) to learn more about elite player pathways and future activities.
PFA’s Player Inclusion Executive, Riz Rehman, said: “We have created a nationwide network with all clubs and academies over the last 18 months and there is overwhelming appetite from them to tap into under-represented communities to find talent.
“This event has been in the making since the start of the year, and I’ve been delighted with all the input from Academy, Club and Foundation staff in ensuring we put on a memorable day for all players and families in attendance. This is the first step as part of our longer-term strategy to see meaningful change.”
Arsenal Head of Talent I-D, Lee Herron, said: “We are proud to have the Arsenal Academy at the forefront of engaging with young South Asian talent within the London area. This event is only a small first step with the PFA, where we ultimately hope to give young players more opportunities while also building long lasting links with south Asian communities.”
Arsenal Academy Head of Emerging Talent for U17 – U23, Yousuf Sajjad, went on to say: “This project is about looking to the future and spurring on change by creating opportunities. Arsenal along with the PFA have invested in a long-term model which provides support and hopefully continues to encourage the next generation of South Asian prospects in chasing their dreams of playing football at the highest level.”
The event marks the first of a number of future events with clubs over the coming months.