Mesut Ozil wants more South Asians to play football and supports initiative
Mesut Ozil has partnered with the Football Association and Football for Peace to launch a development center to promote inclusion and opportunities in football for the South Asian community in Bradford.
Football for Peace, led by former British South Asian player Kashif Siddiqi and the FA, is co-launching the Mesut Ozil Development Center at the University of Bradford – alongside Sky Bet League Two Bradford.
The Football for Peace Mesut Ozil Center will host football and life skills sessions at the Bantams training ground and provide South Asian players the opportunity to help them show the power of the game in all its glory. forms in order to positively contribute to the problems of inclusion, inequality and discrimination.
Several Premier League and EFL clubs have also signed on to the initiative and it is hoped the Bradford center will be the first of many to open nationwide.
Other centers will also be co-branded with professional players and clubs to promote opportunities for members of ethnically diverse communities.
Former Arsenal midfielder Ozil, 32, said: “I’ve always been surprised why the South Asian community is only allowed to be fans of the game, why don’t we see- we no more players or coaches get into professional football?
“I want to support them, give them the opportunity to succeed on and off the pitch. I come from an ethnically diverse background and understand the challenges. I hope the Football for Peace Mesut Ozil Center becomes the platform they need.
In the UK there is a South Asian population of over three million people, seven percent of the population. However, only 11 British South Asians have played professional football in England.
The center will also offer workshops for parents to help build the relationship between South Asians and the football community at large.
Siddiqi, co-founder of Football for Peace, said: “Football has given me so much and by working with Mesut we want to create a platform that will provide a framework inside the pyramid of football between clubs. professionals and our community.
“While it is important to see greater representation in professional sport, it is also essential to recognize the power that football can have over communities.
“Our continued engagement with young people and communities is also aimed at helping to reduce the devastating effects of Covid-19, which has also led to a reduction in the number of sports participations, particularly (the) South Asian community is engaging. “
This is the first time that such an initiative has been launched specifically for the South Asian community and former professionals like Hayden Mullins, Michael Chopra and Cherno Samba have joined as technical directors.