Chelsea and QPR throwing weight behind Asian coaches initiative

The Zesh Rehman Foundation joined forces with Premier League football clubs Chelsea and QPR last week to launch its Sidelined-to-Sidelines campaign aimed at increasing the number of Asian coaches.

The initiative is designed to encourage 16 to 25-year-olds to undertake formal coaching qualifications in order to boost their presence in the game both professionally and at grassroots level.

The Sidelined-to-Sidelines launch event saw a total of 50 aspiring Asian coaches attend induction sessions at Chelsea’s training ground in Cobham and QPR’s Academy training centre in Hounslow

Riz Rehman, project manager for ZRF, is grateful for support of the initiative from the wider football community and revealed its popularity has been the catalyst for future expansion.

"We've had a huge amount of interest from young people across London,” he said.

"The support we have had from the Chelsea, QPR, the Premier League and PFA has been brilliant and we hope to deliver this initiative with other clubs across the country".

Rehman believes Sidelined-to-Sidelines will help Asian youngsters follow in the footsteps of his brother Zesh, who became the first British Asian Premier League footballer when he debuted for Fulham in 2004.

"We have always felt that in order to see more British Asians playing within the professional game we first need to have a pool of suitably qualified coaches who can develop provisions within predominantly Asian communities,” he explained.

PFA Chief Executive Gordon Taylor supports the initiative and believes Zesh, who retained the Hong Kong FA Cup with current side Kichee last week, can inspire Asian stars of the future.

"The lack of Asians involved in all areas of the game is something which we are striving to increase and we anticipate this programme to be rolled out with more clubs after the initial pilot,” he said.

“Zesh is an excellent role model for many young people from all communities and since he was awarded the PFA Player in the Community Award in 2010 by fellow professionals he has continued his commitment to give back to the community via his own Foundation and supporting other charitable causes.”

For more information about Sidelined-to-Sidelines contact Riz Rehman: 

image: © stevendepolo

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