Chelsea launch 'Search For An Asian Soccer Star'

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Chelsea have launched a competition titled Search For An Asian Soccer Star - a Pop-Idol style contest in order to find talented young footballers from Asian communities to join their Academy.

Britain is home to over three million people with family roots in India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and Nepal but the country's largest ethnic minority has virtually no presence in the national sport at the professional level.

There are seven British-Asian footballers playing in England's top four divisions, with none at the highest level after Michael Chopra left Sunderland for Cardiff.

Zesh Rehman - one of a handful of players from a south Asian background to have made it to the Premier League - says the current figures are "shocking".

"I think it's shocking to be perfectly honest. Seven out of 92 league clubs is alarming," said Rehman, who is now at Bradford on loan from Championship side QPR.

"I think the first report about Asians in football came out about 10 years ago. So in 10 years to only have seven Asian players come through is still not enough.

"You can't tell me that Asian kids don't love football because they do.

"I think clubs need to take a more active role and engage with their communities and I think it's a great project.

"Chelsea are a Premier League club with a massive profile across the world I am sure other clubs can look at that and use it as a template for future reference."

Former Blues left-back Greame Le Saux, who now holds an ambassadorial role with the club, claims they are not just scouting for top-class footballers.

He said: "It's not all about becoming a professional football player.

"The main part of what we're trying to achieve is to open our doors up to a large community of people and give them an experience.

"We realise that there is a lack of representation of players from Asian backgrounds within the game and we hope that the competition will help inspire Asian youngsters.

"We want to show that race is no barrier to joining our club and that opportunities for Asian players do exist. We are proud of the religious and racial diversity at Chelsea and it is important that all clubs share our ambition that players should only be judged on their talent and their potential."

The competition, aimed at young players aged 10 to 14, will run at Chelsea's Cobham training ground between May 2-4, with the most talented players being offered a three-day residential trial at the club’s world class Academy.

Participants will be judged on a series of matches and tests specifically designed and used by the Chelsea Academy to demonstrate their speed, skills and ability.

Should the young hopefuls be successful on their club trial, then they will be offered the chance to join the Blues' youth system on a more permanent basis.

Places are limited for each day. Full details of the event, including how to apply, can be found on the club's website,

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