Muslim News Global Celebrity Person of the Year, Mesut Ozil has joined forces with the Football Association and Football for Peace to launch a development centre for South Asians in England.
The University of Bradford will host the centre, which will “run football and life skill sessions” at League Two side Bradford’s training ground.
“I want to promote them, give them an opportunity to be successful both on and off the pitch,” said Ozil.
“I am from an ethnic diverse background and understand the challenges.”
Former Real Madrid and Arsenal playmaker Ozil, who is of Turkish origin, was born in Gelsenkirchen in Germany.
He went on to play 92 times for Germany and helped them win the 2014 World Cup.
Ozil is currently at Turkish side Fenerbahce after leaving Arsenal on a free transfer in January.
He won Global Muslim Celebrity Person of the Year 2020, an award organised by this medium to celebrate Muslim achievers in different professions including sports, entertainment.
“I have always been surprised why the South Asian community are only allowed to be fans of the game,” he said. “Why are we not seeing more players or managers breaking into professional football?
“I hope the Football for Peace Mesut Ozil Centre will become the platform they need.”
Figures last year showed British Asians make up about 7% of the UK population but only 0.25% of professional footballers.
Former British South Asian player Kashif Siddiqi is the co-founder of Football for Peace and the centre in Bradford is to be the “first as part of a nationwide initiative”.
The aim is to promote “opportunities for members of ethnically diverse communities to be able to fulfil their aspirations by providing pathways into elite football and education”, with a number of Premier League and English Football League clubs having signed up to the initiative.
SUPPORT MUSLIM NEWS NIGERIA
With your generous financial contributions to MUSLIM NEWS, you are helping to sustain a culture of journalistic integrity that promotes tranquil Islamic values and ensures it remains free and available to all.