Budding young football stars showing off their silky skills and talents were on show at this years Sadaqa cup 2004 held in Newham’s West Ham Park on Sunday 25th July, 2004. The competition was played in great spirits and aided by good weather for supporters cheering on their local participating teams. There were two competitions taking place for different age groups, Under 14’s and Under 16’s.
Unfortunately there were no upsets on the cards and the eventual winners of both groups were the deserved winners. The Under 14’s final however, went down to a penalty shoot out and in dramatic, nail biting fashion was won by the host team NYL All Stars with man of the match (and man of the tournament in his age group) Emmanuel playing a starring role in goal saving three crucial spot kicks and forcing supporters to invade the pitch once the decisive penalty had been taken.
Baresi FC were the winners of the under 16’s group and very deservedly so as they went onto win the final in style with the opposition team running out ideas of how to control Baresi’s star striker who scored a hat trick in the final to add to his one goal per game ratio throughout the tournament.
The trophies were handed out and players of the tournament carefully selected by our tournament organisers to bring a close to a successful event.
Development of Asian Footballers
The world still awaits for the first South Asian professional footballer to hit the world stage – Newham is now officially London’s most diverse borough with majority of the Boroughs population coming from the ethnic minority – The population of Britain’s Asian community is huge – Professional Football Clubs are offering special trial sessions to identify Asian talent – Every other race has at least one Professional Footballer playing in one of the top leagues in Europe.
Several factors have been mentioned above, so where does the problem lye and when is it that we’ll see a professional footballer stepping onto current unfamiliar territories of the beautiful game.
Using the Sadaqa cup tournament as an example I would like to point my finger on one particular aspect as maybe being a major contributing factor in all Asian kids rather studying medicine at University than focussing on a possible career playing football.
NYL hosted a tournament which consisted of only a couple of teams which came from outside Newham. All other teams were local teams, very local, within walking distance to the venue in fact. So what was missing from a tournament which had such entertainment, such joy and brought smiles that can only be witnessed once for most on the faces of the eventual winners of the tournament.
When the young people left their homes that morning to make their way to the tournament, did they actually tell their parents where they were going or did they just say that they were going out for a bit, or probably a mention that they’re going for a ‘kick around’ with their mates. How many parents would have supported their child with a kiss on the cheek and words of good luck as the child walked out of the house with his boot bag in his hand? How many parents would have thought of even popping down to the park to watch their child playing football for even a mere five minutes? Would that have been a major confidence boost for the child proudly playing in front of his parents desperate to impress as all kids like to do? Would that child have come out with the confidence and attitude the game desires rather than holding back at tackles in case they get hurt and having to explain and receive a rollocking from the parents upon entering the home with an injury.
Is it just me or have others my age encountered patella fracturing experiences while out ice skating and coming home walking with a tall order in absolute agony but not mentioning a word to the parents as they know the exchange would have been an ear bashing. At the ripe old age of 24, I sustained a footballing knee ligament injury which to this day my mother does not know about.
My view on this issue
After injuring my knee I decided to give up playing for a season but still stay involved with the game by qualifying as a referee with the London FA and officiating games at different levels. What a joy it was to watch parents supporting their child on as he plays in Wanstead flats on a Sunday morning. How lovely is it to watch the child run up to the parent after he’s scored and hug them thinking ‘I’ve done the business in front of my parents’. With all the parental encouragement, will that child now hold back whilst playing or will he feel that his parents are there so the world is his oyster and he will take to the field without a worry and the world at his feet.
It’s evident, I’ve seen it as I’ve refereed various games and situations like this occurs right in front of my very eyes. Parents of children aged 7 up to 14 are there watching as their boy is on the field and the occasional call out by the parent to the child sees him chasing the ball around the pitch because he has the backing from the sidelines of his beloved parents, he wins the ball and goes onto score and it sends wild celebrations amongst his parents. How does that child feel?
Without making any criticisms and before I get into any more trouble than I probably already am in, maybe this issue needs to be addressed, maybe it’s not true but MAYBE IT IS. Maybe we should take our kid to the park to watch him play rather than sending him out to football training without knowing the background of the football team or organisation he is involved with, the trainer might be a criminal for all we know, how do we know he isn’t abusing our child and swearing at him and the child is too scared to say anything? Fact is, I believe, parents play a major part in a child’s success at both social and professional level and with similar support it wouldn’t be long before we witness our first Professional Asian Football Player taking to the field at Villa Park (No prizes for guessing which team I support, yes, sadly I do!)