Former England players Jermain Defoe, Graeme Le Saux and Steve Coppell are among the judges who will decide the destination of the 2015 Asian Football Awards (AFA) as they make a welcome return to the home of football, Wembley Stadium, on Thursday 19th November.
Among those already nominated for AFA 2015 men’s player awards are the Swansea City FC and Wales left-back Neil Taylor – winner of the Player award in 2013 – Wolverhampton Wanderers FC captain Danny Batth, West Bromwich Albion FC brothers Adil Nabi (currently on loan with Delhi Dynamos in the Indian Super League) and Samir Nabi, and young England stars Easah Suliman (Aston Villa FC) and Yan Dhanda (Liverpool FC).
The Woman in Football award is also likely to be tightly contested, with goalkeeper Aditi Chauhan (West Ham United Ladies FC and India), attacking midfielder Tanvie Hans and defender Monica Sharma (both Fulham Ladies FC).
In the closely fought South East Asian Player award, Maya Yoshida (Southampton FC and Japan), Ki Sung-Yueng (Swansea City FC and South Korea) and Ji So-Yun (Chelsea Ladies FC and South Korea) are all in the frame, while off the field, Liverpool FC supporters’ committee member Yunus Lunat and Anwar Uddin, diversity and campaigns manager at the Football Supporters’ Federation, are also in line for recognition. While at Barnet FC, Uddin became the first British Asian to captain a Football League side.
Nominations for the Awards, which are supported by the Football Association and celebrate the contribution of Asians in the UK to the sport, from grassroots level to the professional game, remain open until Thursday 29th October and can be made at www.asianfootballawards.co.uk.
Categories include: Player, Woman in Football, Grassroots, Young Player, Coach, Media, South East Asian Player, Behind the Scenes, Non League Player, Inspiration and Asian Football Club.
The AFA will be presented on the night by DJ Noreen Khan, from BBC Asian Network, and Sky Sports News presenter Dharmesh Sheth.
The Asian Football Awards aim to improve the awareness of the positive impact made by Asians within the UK football industry and to engage with organisations and individuals to help increase participation levels.
“Much has occurred in the two years since the last awards with regard to Asians in football in the UK,” says Baljit Rihal, chief executive officer of Inventive Sports and founder of the Asian Football Awards. “We are glad that we have been able to put the spotlight on some very inspirational people and to watch them shine has been an absolute pleasure.
“However, there is still much work to be done, as progress in increasing Asian representation across the industry has been far too slow. Our hope is that these awards will once again raise the Asians in football debate in the mainstream media and that influential organisations make a concerted effort to help rectify this longstanding imbalance.”
The Football Association has given its backing to the Awards, with chairman Greg Dyke saying: “Congratulations to everyone connected with this year’s Asian Football Awards. It is a timely reminder of some of the wonderful work being done at both grassroots level and in the professional game, in Asian communities right across the country.
“I’m delighted that The FA’s Asian inclusion plan is helping to raise the profile of some of the work you’ll hear about at the event itself and that Wembley is the setting for this important event.”