The under-representation of British Asians remains one of football’s most unfortunate stats. It is a national crisis that has been festering for decades. Only three South Asian players have graced the Premier League, and with Wolves’ Danny Batth set to become a top-flight captain next season, it’s clear things need to change sooner rather than later.
Since making a debut on the international circuit and playing in the 2008 Beijing Olympic Qualifiers, Kashif Siddiqi has become known to many as South Asia’s Football Globetrotter. He is also one of a handful of British South Asians to have made it in the professional ranks in the UK.
His journey in sport is one of many travelled routes and philanthropic accomplishments. Despite making up seven per cent of the United Kingdom’s population, only 11 British South Asians have played professional football in England. Neil Taylor, now at Aston Villa, is the last to have done so in the Premier League.
Before him, only Michael Chopra and Zesh Rehman had reached the top division. Who knows where South Asians would’ve ended up if allowed to play in the big leagues? Star footballers like Mohamed Salah, an incredibly talented striker who has won the Golden Boot more than once in the Premier League, joined Liverpool in 2014. He initially played for Egypt in Al Makawloon from 2006-2012.
Salah is an inspiration to all the foreign footballers, especially South Asians, which promotes the message: if you’ve got the talent and ability, it’ll take you to higher places. Kashif Siddiqi aims to bring this hidden talent to light.
He set up the Kashif Siddiqi Foundation to bring football into under-represented communities, working to break down the social barriers responsible for an ever-expanding divide between British South Asian families and the sport.
“It’s the million-dollar question,” he says of the lack of progress in improving participation levels. “The FA did a big study about 10 years ago about why there are no Asians in football and if you look at it now, they are still asking the same question. There appears to be a gap widening between grassroots and pro