• Wednesday, April 17, 2024


With players like Mohamed Salah, Sadio Mane, you’ll see more British Asians coming through: England cricketer Moeen Ali

The cricketer also revealed that his son Abu Bakr Ali now plays football.

FILE PHOTO: England’s Moeen Ali plays football during a training session at Old Trafford Cricket Ground in Manchester, northwest England, on June 17, 2019 (DIBYANGSHU SARKAR/AFP via Getty Images)

By: Pramod Thomas

ENGLAND cricketer Moeen Ali has said that the participation of British Asians in football at the professional level is minuscule in the country, according to a report.

Asian involvement in UK cricket is healthy even in the backdrop of allegations by former Yorkshire cricketer Azeem Rafiq in which he claimed that “institutional racism” at Yorkshire County Cricket Club had left him close to taking his own life.

In football, Zidane Iqbal became the first British South Asian to play for Manchester United last year, but the lack of Asians in football is glaring.

Giving his two cents, Ali said that there’s a cut-throat competition for football and there are not many British Asian role models, The Athletic reported.

“The competition for football is a lot higher than any other sport, so it’s difficult to get into. Also, there aren’t really role models in terms of British Asians.”

“With players like Salah, Mane, you’ll see more British Asians coming through over the next 15-20 years. There are a few in youth set-ups now but it’s also a culture clash, certainly initially.”

“Those gaps are getting smaller though, so you’ll see it in the future. Support is big — pushing your child, (with) British Asians, playing sport wasn’t the main thing. In cricket perhaps now with myself, Adil Rashid, Saqib Mahmood, Chris Jordan, Jofra (Archer), you’ll see that change.”

Ali said the England cricketers love playing football and revealed some of the best soccer players from the team. “We used to play football a lot and take it really seriously. Jos Butler’s a very good player, Mark Wood too, but the best player at England is Chris Woakes. Great feet.”

While talking about his love for Liverpool, Ali said: “Even when we’ve had bad periods we’ve always won trophies. There was a massive dip with the team at one stage… well, many stages, but we’ve always had great games, great comebacks. It’s great being a Liverpool fan.”

According to him, there’s something special about Liverpool and Anfield as it is a great place to watch football.

“Last season was incredible, losing four games all year. It was disappointing not to get the two big trophies but we still won two. We’d take that, especially given the way we play football.”

Ali, who played 64 Tests, 115 ODIs and 49 T20 internationals for England, talked about the challenges of playing during the Holy month of Ramadan.

“Ramadan is an obvious challenge and there are contrasts between how we do it in cricket and how they do it in football. They only play for 90 minutes but it’s a lot more intense more running. Cricket is a full day, which is also hard. There’s a lot to think about, such as what to eat, when do you get the time to pray,” Ali told The Athletic about his concerns.

The cricketer also revealed that his son Abu Bakr Ali now plays football, and he would love him to become a footballer.

“My son loves football, I’d love for him to be a footballer and try and support him as much as I can. Having been a professional sportsman you know what it takes. It’s about giving him the support and the drive that’s needed. He’s eight now — he plays for his local team,” he said.

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