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Thursday, November 30, 2023

“Having the Premier League trophy here is the next best thing to having the Queen.  It has been a massive wow factor.” Humayun Islam

Standing beside the legendary Premier Cup at the BEAP Manningham Sports ground, Humayan said ‘I still can’t believe it!

As part of the Premier League’s 30th anniversary celebrations more than 100 members of the public, (which includes Bradford’s very own Humayun Islam BEM) who have made an outstanding contribution to their club and local community have been presented with a Community Captain accolade

Community members and leaders gather for the Premier League trophy tour. Image RFMP

At a special event, held on Tuesday 16 August at the newly built BEAP Midland Road Sports Complex, as part of the PL trophy tour, Humayun was presented with the Community Captain armband and pennant.

“For me, this award is all about the local community and the work we do at BEAP to bring people from diverse backgrounds together – all for the love of sport” he said.

Humayan has played a pivotal role in helping Bradford City diversify its fanbase through his leadership of the Bangla Bantams supporter group.  The group has engaged local people in match day experiences leading to an increase in South Asian female attendees at games.  Over the years, Humayan’s work has helped the club to address high levels of deprivation especially among the Bangladeshi Community and the creation of a new football facility at BEAP Community Partnership.

Presenting Humayan with his award, Ian Ormandroyd, former professional football player said, “Congratulations.  The new facility is superb and fantastic for the Manningham community, which is one of the most deprived wards in the country.  With it being next to the football club, it is a great facility for all of the community to use.”

Football has become a way in which the community can regenerate, as well as helping kids develop and grow.  South Asian communities have been asking for greater representation in grassroots football and the arrival of the Premier League Cup at Bradford Manningham is a significant response to that desire.

“Having the Premier Trophy here is the next best thing to having the Queen.  It has been a massive wow factor.  The community couldn’t believe it until they see it.  There have been lots of selfies with the trophy,” said Humayan

Hiron Miah, Chair BEAP agrees.  “It means a lot to us.  We would never have the opportunity to see it or get this close to it.  We want to inspire the next generation and if we can get some young people inspired, then that’s our job done.”

The Premier League Trophy Tour is visiting more than 50 professional, non league and

Monika Stube and Ian Ormondroyd present Humayun with the Community Captain armband and pennant.

women’s clubs across England and Wales which receive funding from the Premier League. Premier League Chief Executive Richard Masters said, “it is important we celebrate the unsung heroes who deliver brilliant work in their communities.  These people – whether they are participants, coaches, volunteers or long-time employees are the lifeblood of their clubs and communities.”

“It is a real transition for young people playing here, funded by the Premier League.  A real dream changed to reality.  We have the Premier Kids, delivered by the BEAP Manningham foundation, and the Wildcats also.  It is not just youth but older people as well. We have walking football delivered in partnership with Age UK,” said Humayan.

Over the next three years, the League will contribute £1.6 billion to communities and the wider game. Developing local, grass roots community involvement is seen as crucial to the future growth of football.

Greater investment is being made into the Premier League Fans Fund with £5m being made available to support fan engagement projects, £13.5m into the Football Foundation to create small side pitches in the heart of communities that need them most.

Inspiring girls to take part is seen as extremely important. The Premier tour is designed to highlight new investment into women’s and girls football including the creation of Emerging Talent Centres.

Hiron Miah told Asian Standard: “Over the years women, especially from the South Asian community have not participated in sport.  We want to get them engaged.  Lots of girls have been playing in our summer camp.”

Extra inspiration is being provided by the presence of Monika Stube in Bradford. She is a Bradford City AFC Women’s first team player and was a member of England’s winning European football team this summer.

She told Asian Standard, “I come from a different community and know how hard it is to be different.  This community has made me feel at home.  No one ever questions where you are from, you are part of Bradford now.  It is all about communities coming together and enjoying the game.”

Monika believers her experience will benefit local girls.

“I started playing when I was five.  It’s just something I enjoyed, and spending time with people around me.  As I got older, I knew I wanted to be a footballer but people questioned whether girls should be playing.  Football was not seen as a girls sport. You just need the courage to do it.  My Mum was very supportive saying you are a girl, and will be really amazing at it.”

Her advice to girls is simple.  “Just go for it.  It’s not about how much money you have or where you are going to go, it is about putting it together.  There are opportunities here. In Bradford we already have junior teams. All the resources are here and will help boys and girls to play football no matter where you are from.”

And what of the future? The Premier League tour and investment plans are certainly a step in the right direction for South Asian communities long desired involvement as well as providing inspiration.

Humayan said, “We want kids coming here to see that trophy and go on to lift it and win the Premier League.”

Shummell Uddin, Sports Development Officer agrees, “In my role as a community engagement officer I help engage young people in sports, helping upskill them and make them pioneers for the game in the future.  It doesn’t matter whether it is becoming a referee for football, playing, becoming a coach or becoming involved in cricket or other games.  Events like this encourage and motivate youngsters to contribute more towards it and become more engaged in it. This provides them with a platform and opportunity for future dreams in whatever sport they choose.”

There maybe a longer way to go in seeing more men and women from South Asian communities in professional football, but events like these from the Premier League certainly seem to be taking a step in the right direction for inclusivity.

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