Next up is Mizan Rahman, who is our Adult Participation – Inclusion and Diversity – Football Development Officer.
In September 2019, we launched three small sided football leagues to support the asylum seekers and refugee communities to come together and play more football. The project, fully funded by Sport England, was set up following an assessment of football opportunities available to asylum seekers and refugee players in the West Midlands area.
Most players are on minimum benefits and are restricted from playing in the established leagues across our County due to financial and transportation barriers. Another reason behind it was to give players who have not played competitive football before a chance to play mainstream football in a structured environment.
The league was set up to provide not only a playing opportunity, but also training for The FA Level 1 and Referee Courses for participants who showed an interest to further develop themselves.
With the leagues held at various venues - such as Villa Park, Halesowen College and Goals Coventry - it provided a good geographical spread of opportunities for players to attend and participate across our County.
After a successful first season concluded, the next stage is to have the top two teams from each league come and play in a County final.
Season two has attracted interest from another venue, making it a total of four leagues across the County, which will create more opportunities for the asylum seekers and refugee communities.
Following the successful one-day tournament in September 2019, which saw teams representing some of the West Midlands many restaurants, takeaways and other eating establishments, we have now planned to develop an extended division under the already existing Business League, which will see teams from the Restaurant League programme play.
The tournament initiative, launched by Birmingham County FA, was used as a networking opportunity and part of the recruitment process for the proposed league, whilst enhancing football opportunities across the West Midlands.
Our intention is that the Restaurant League will provide those unable to play on evenings or weekends with an opportunity to do so in a competitive, but friendly, environment against some of their industry peers.
“Football is a game For All – and we are passionate about ensuring that people who love the game get an opportunity to play.
“The one-day 5-a-side tournament was so successful; it shows the appetite to play amongst those that work within the many food establishments we are lucky to have in the West Midlands.
“We believe that this is the first of many leagues catering for those that work in jobs with traditionally unsociable hours.
“A league for taxi drivers is our next objective in early 2021.”