Thursday 23 January 2014
Two young people are gaining valuable coaching experience with Chelsea’s community programme after being given a pathway into sport with the partnership of the Chelsea Foundation and the Zesh Rehman Foundation.
Both organisations have been working closely to deliver Sidelined-2-Sidelines (S2S), a coach education and mentoring initiative which is funded by the Premier League and the Professional Footballers' Association.
S2S started last year and aims to increase the number of young people from minority communities accessing high-quality football coaching. The programme also hopes to inspire volunteer coaches at grassroots level, provide pathways into the professional game and to provide training for coaches as youth workers to engage with disadvantage communities.
"To be part of Sidelined-2-Sidelined which is working closely with Chelsea to give more Asians a chance in the game is very special"
The scheme is aimed at 16-25-year-olds and has already given 25 people from South London the opportunity to gain football-related qualifications by learning from professional football coaches. Two members, Ragesh Nambiar and Fahad Najeeb, are now coaching on a regular basis within the Chelsea Foundation.
Ragesh has five coaching qualifications including his FA Level 2 badge and coaches two regular weekly sessions in Balham and Uxbridge. He says Rob Udberg, the Head of Development at Chelsea Ladies FC, gave him the confidence to gain the qualifications.
"When Rob Udberg came to deliver a workshop, he made us realise that you don't have to have been a professional player to become a top coach," Ragesh said.
"He told us that there are pathways in place if we work hard enough, and since being part of the Chelsea FC, I have definitely improved as a coach. All the staff are always passing on useful information to me to improve as a coach and I hope to continue my development and learn from everyone around me.
"To be part of Sidelined-2-Sidelined which is working closely with Chelsea to give more Asians a chance in the game is very special."
Zesh Rehman became the first British Asian to play in the Barclays Premier League while playing for Fulham and after spells in the Football League at Norwich City, Brighton & Hove Albion, Queens Park Rangers, Blackpool and Bradford City, he has since taken his skills to Thailand, Hong Kong and Malaysia, where he currently plays for Pahang FA.
Rehman, who also captains the Pakistan national team, started his foundation in 2010 with the vision of changing perceptions surrounding British Asians in football, including the fight against religious barriers associated with communities which have a high number of South Asians.
"I am delighted that the funding from Premier League and PFA has enabled us to work closely with Chelsea FC and provide genuine pathways for the coaches on the programme," said Rehman, who has been a supporter of Chelsea’s Asian Star programme, which aims to give a boost to Asian participation at all levels of the game.
"Chelsea have shown a continued commitment to encourage more Asian children to get into the game by holding their annual 'Asian Star' and by us now working more closely with the club we hope to play a bigger part in the next Asian Star."