QPR in the Community Trust have joined forces with the Zesh Rehman Foundation (ZRF) to tackle the under-representation of South Asians in British football.
The Trust will work closely with the ZRF to deliver Sidelined-to-Sidelines – its new unique coach education and mentoring programme funded by the Premier League and the Professional Footballers Association.
South Asians make up over 50% of the UK’s non-European population but there are currently no suitably qualified coaches working in the Premier League or Football League originating from South Asian (Bangladesh, India, and Pakistan) countries.
Sidelined-to-Sidelines will give 25 young participants the opportunity to gain football-related qualifications, learn from professional club coaches and acquire the necessary skills to act as role models and help develop provision in predominantly Asian areas.
Andy Evans, CEO of QPR in the Community Trust, said: “I am delighted that we have been able to partner with the Zesh Rehman Foundation.
“Zesh was an inspirational member of the QPR team whilst here as a player and was passionate about bringing change to the communities surrounding Loftus Road.
“It is important that our workforce is reflective of the communities that we serve in west and north west London, and through Sidelined-to-Sidelines we aim to inspire the next generation of coaches from the South Asian community to enter the professional world of football coaching.
“We are really excited about this project and look forward to working intensely with the 25 young aspiring coaches and, of course, our partner the Zesh Rehman Foundation.”
The ZRF was launched in May 2010 by Rehman, who became the first Asian to play in the English Premier League and in all three divisions of the Football League.
The Pakistan international and former R’s defender – who currently plays for Hong Kong First Division side Kitchee – spent three seasons at Loftus Road as well as representing Fulham, Norwich City, Brighton & Hove Albion, Blackpool and Bradford City.
His charity strives to change perceptions and myths surrounding British Asians in football by providing more opportunities in disadvantaged communities – combating cultural and religious barriers associated with communities which have a high number of South Asians.
The ZRF works at the grassroots in these communities to help aspiring footballers and coaches develop their skills through coaching clinics, soccer schools and personal development courses.
Rehman said: “I have fond memories of my time playing for QPR and am pleased to be working closely once again with Andy Evans and all the staff within QPR in the Community Trust.
“QPR have delivered some fantastic work in west London. It only feels like yesterday that I was visiting schools for the QPR Trust.
“There is a massive British Asian community within the area and I’m sure the partnership around the coaching education programme will create a great buzz for those involved.”
An opening recruitment day for coaches onto the programme is scheduled for mid-April.