Sporting Equals chief executive Arun Kang says it is important to consider South Asian women in the game, adding top-flight representation is nowhere near where it should be.

Kang was speaking after the launch of a partnership between Sky Sports and Sporting Equals to help tackle under-representation by addressing some of the barriers affecting the participation and progression of British South Asian football talent, particularly in the girls’ and women’s game.

He said there is need an urgent need to collect wide-ranging data on diverse participants at the elite end of the women’s game, insisting football’s stakeholders must work collectively in this process.

“South Asian women in the game are really important,” Kang told Sky Sports News.

“I think 0.3 per cent [British South Asian representation] in the WSL isn’t good enough at the moment. I know there are many South Asian women and girls who are playing football [at a high standard] and we need to bring them on board.

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Sky Sports has announced a one-year partnership with Sporting Equals to support the charity’s ambition of inspiring more opportunities for British South Asians in football.

“One of the key parts of this project itself is going to be work on research and insight, finding out where many South Asian women and girls are playing at the moment, and which clubs they are with.

“We know a lot of them anyway because they have engaged with us, with Sky, with Sporting Equals, which is also going to be very important to this as well.

“But who else is in there? Who are the coaches? Who are the scouts out there from South Asian backgrounds? But then also the players and who are those that are coming through? We need all of them on board and we want to really collect that data for the game.

“And then the key isn’t just to take the data and put it on a shelf, it’s about tracking those individuals and finding out where they are going next. What have they done? Why did they stop? What were the barriers and challenges that stopped them moving and progressing through the game?

“I think that’s what we want to be working with the individuals, and the clubs themselves on, and with football as a sector.”

Brentford Women's development squad manager Will Blithing and player Rabia Azam coached at the Seeing is Believing event at Indian Gymkhana
Brentford Women’s development squad manager Will Blithing and player Rabia Azam coached at the Seeing is Believing event at Indian Gymkhana in west London

Sky Sports and Sporting Equals worked together with Brentford FC recently to create the Seeing is Believing girls’ football pilot project for century-old west London sports club Indian Gymkhana, aimed at encouraging more South Asian female participation in the game.

Explaining why it is important to pay particular focus to British South Asian women in football, Kang added: “South Asian women and girls have always been the least active of all from Active Lives data.

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Bristol City Women’s Simran Jhamat hopes she can be a role model for the next generation of British South Asian footballers

“It’s a trend that has happened for years and years, and I think getting some of these [talented] women and girls to play at the highest level – they are the role models, they’re the ambassadors who are going to really send the messages out to communities.

“There’s a lot of latent demand from South Asian women and girls for football. I think they just need to see more people who look like them playing the game. You can’t be what you can’t see.”

British South Asians in Football

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