We were proud to support a recent pre-season friendly between two trailblazing clubs in Sporting Khalsa and Punjab United to mark the beginning of South Asian Heritage Month.
Both clubs are owned by British South Asians and have achieved strong success to date, with Sporting Khalsa’s men’s team currently playing in the Northern Premier League Midlands Division, while Punjab United play in the Premier Division of the Southern Counties Football League and are coming off the back of a successful season having won the Kent Senior Trophy for the first time.
The fixture, which finished 3-3 and was officiated by pioneering former referee Jarnail Singh alongside Ajay Sharma and Genie Hayer, was attended by football fans from across the country as well as football stakeholders from The FA, our County FA network and Kick It Out.
We were delighted to support the fixture by bringing people together for a special ‘South Asians in Football’ event ahead of kick-off featuring representatives of both clubs, coaches, referees, volunteers, fans and the local community. The event recognised the work being done to promote Asian inclusion across the game and included presentations from Sporting Khalsa Sporting Director Jas Batt and Rashid Abba of West Ham United, while Dev Trehan of Sky Sports News and Desiballers presented the ‘team of the season’ which included the likes of Kira Rai, Mal Benning, Yan Dhanda and Mariam Mahmood.
This event followed The FA welcoming over 1,600 people to Wembley Stadium in April to celebrate the religious festivals of Ramadan and Vaisakhi, as part of our Faith in Football series which aims to connect communities and stakeholders across the game to football via their faith.
Dal Darroch, The FA’s Head of Diversity and Inclusion Strategic Programmes, said: “It was great to play a part in bringing the South Asian community together at this fixture between two trailblazing clubs. We’re deeply committed to ensuring Asian communities are better represented both on and off the pitch, and events like this prove the appetite is there from everybody to break down barriers and ensure our game really is for all. We have a long way to go, but we are seeing more people of Asian heritage playing, coaching and refereeing within the game, which is fantastic to see and it’s important that English football works together to keep building on this.”
South Asian Heritage Month began in 2019 and was established by the Grand Trunk Project, the Partition Commemoration Campaign, City Sikhs and Faiths Forum for London. Running from 18 July-17 August each year, the month provides learning opportunities for others and enables people of South Asian heritage to reclaim their history and identity by sharing their own stories and experiences.
Through this year’s South Asian Heritage Month theme of #StoriesToTell, we will publish the latest update on our Asian inclusion strategy, Bringing Opportunities to Communities Phase 2, which launched in 2019 and aims to increase participation of people from Asian backgrounds both on and off the pitch. We will also publish a special short series of Football and Me #StoriestoTell exploring the views of parents and players in the academy systems, as well as episode five of the award-winning series featuring Asian fan groups who support our England national teams.