As part of the latest achievements of the Asian Inclusion Mentoring Scheme (AIMS), the PFA has announced a 29% increase in South Asian professional players in the 2023/24 season.
AIMS is a comprehensive, five-year strategy aimed at enhancing Asian representation in football. The PFA’s South Asian Inclusion Strategy provides an extensive support network and club engagement, providing valuable experiences for Asian footballers across professional levels.
2023/24 South Asian Data Summary
- 29% increase in South Asian representation of professional players in the 2023/24 season.
- In the 2022/23 season, there was a 12.6% increase in the number of players at all levels of elite football identifying as of South Asian heritage, rising to 134 players from 119 in the previous 2021/22 season.
- The proportion of academies with at least one player of South Asian heritage grew to 63% in the latest season, up from 53% in the 2021/22 season.
- Scholars of South Asian heritage represent 1.45% of the total, with their numbers showing an almost 9% increase from the 2021-22 season.
- Between 2022 and 2023, there were six league debuts by players of South Asian heritage, a significant increase compared to only two debuts between 2018 and 2021, indicating a very positive trend.
Commenting on the latest figures, Riz Rehman, PFA Player Inclusion Executive, said: “The team at the PFA are pleased with the continued progress being made in the game, the figures show an increasing momentum for South Asian players and those seeking pathways within the game. It has been another busy 12 months with the AIMS programme; we have successfully implemented various initiatives that showcase more than just the playing pathway. The data is encouraging, and our primary focus will remain on the players as we build on the multiple successes of last year and push forward.”
The PFA’s AIMS programme facilitates organised meetings and workshops where scholars, academy players, and their parents/guardians can engage with senior Asian players. Mentors in the scheme include experienced players such as Danny Batth, Malvind Benning, Neil Taylor, Zesh Rehman, Otis Khan, and Anwar Uddin. These initiatives have contributed significantly to the scheme's success over the past year, advancing towards a sustainable future for South Asian players in elite football.
Sai Sachdev, Sheffield United and England U19 international, shared his experiences of the programme: "Being part of the AIMS network has allowed me to connect with other players who are on similar pathways. The PFA has taken an interest in all our journeys, and the team has come to spend some time with me at the training ground, as well as with my family, which was appreciated. I’ve built friendships with other players and attended AIMS events, which have given me a good insight into the different industry pathways."