The 34-year-old former AC Milan and French international midfielder visited both Bordesley Green Girls School and Moseley School to experience first hand the work that Ashram Housing Association are involved in through the ‘Bend it like Birmingham’ project.
During his visit he held a number of coaching sessions with the local girls and boys and spoke of his campaigning work against prejudice and how sports and playing football can act as a bridge in bringing different communities together.
The ‘Bend it like Birmingham’ sports project is led by Ashram Housing Association in partnership with five others – Midland Heart, Waterloo, Harden and Friendship Care & Housing and the City Council.
Vikash is currently in the UK to promote his controversial fly-on-the-wall documentary film ‘Substitute’ about his experiences during the World Cup in Germany which will be released in Birmingham on 30th May.
Vikash said: “It’s great to see Ashram doing fantastic work that helps communities to integrate and if we can’t live side by side we need to learn how to live together. Through the project Ashram are providing opportunities for local kids to come together through football. I’ve really enjoyed coaching the children and have been happy to pass on some tips and advice to them’.
Basma Nasser, a pupil at Bordesley Green Girls School said: “We’ve had a really enjoyable afternoon with Vikash as our coach. He’s a fantastic example and role model for us and shows how Asian footballers can play at the highest levels”.
The Bend it Like Birmingham initiative has involved more than 300 young people from diverse backgrounds ranging from White, Black Asian and Refugee communities in football and other sports to tackle community tensions and prejudice.
The project is also training a dozen young men and women as accredited football and fitness coaches and has recruited more than 60 volunteers from communities in Sparkbrook, Bordesley Green, Shard End, Sheldon and Nechells.
Substitute is supported by:
Notes to the Editor:
Ashram Housing Association is the largest Black & Minority Ethnic (BME) housing association in the West Midlands, with almost 1000 properties in management and development. It meets the needs of BME communities through the provision of good quality housing and related services delivered in a culturally appropriate way, providing general housing for families and single people and supported housing and care, both residential and outreach support services, in Birmingham, Coventry and across the Black Country.
Substitute the film Cinema Dates:
May 9th Harrow Safari Cinema
May 16th East Ham Boleyn
May 23rd Southall
May 30th Birmingham Piccadilly and Leicester