QPR welcomed Zesh Rehman back to Loftus Road last week as the former Rangers defender returned to West London to promote the Sidelined-to-Sidelines campaign on behalf of his foundation.
The programme, which is designed to increase the number of British Asian coaches, is being delivered by the Zesh Rehman Foundation in conjunction with the QPR Community Sports Trust and the Chelsea Foundation.
Rehman was joined at the Sidelined-to-Sidelines conference by Simone Pound from the PFA, Andy Evans from the QPR Community Sports Trust and former Blackburn Rovers manager Steve Kean.
Kean and Rehman worked together when the pair were at Fulham and the Glaswegian paid tribute to the work his former charge has done with the Asian community.
“The work he has done with the foundation has been great,” said Kean.
“What has really impressed me is not just Zesh the footballer but it’s also Zesh the young coach that has opened up different avenues and career pathways within football for some of the young Asian community that want to be involved in football.
“He knows how to inspire and how to show people that it doesn’t matter if you don’t make it at the first opportunity, you’ve just got to keep going and get yourself qualified in whatever area you are in.”
The Sidelined-2-Sidelines initiative was launched in March this year and has been supported by the Premier League and PFA who have contributed to the funding the project.
Simone Pound, Head of Equalities and Diversity at The PFA, has thrown her support behind the project and is delighted her organisation can continue to support the work of the foundation.
“We are really pleased to help Zesh in his role as an ambassador for the Zesh Rehman Foundation and as a union we work closely with him and his brother Riz on the inception and delivery of the programmes,” she said.
“We all know there is a massive imbalance and under-representation of Asian players and coaches within the professional game. What ZRF is doing so well is inspiring people to stay within the game and also to develop and demonstrate the pathways that are within professional football for everyone.”
What else is needed to help address the lack of Asian players and coaches in English football?
image: © Tom Cuppens