Engaging Asian youngsters at Vaisakhi Mela

ALBION offered a helping hand to run a football tournament at the Vaisakhi Mela festival in a bid to encourage Asian youngsters to get involved in football.

The Vaisakhi Mela is the biggest event of the Sikh calendar, and the festival, which took place at Handsworth Park in Birmingham provided a brilliant opportunity to engage with the local community.

"It's about coming down, giving back to the community, and showing everybody what West Bromwich Albion and The Albion Foundation have got to offer," said Shin Aujla, Apna Albion's chairman.

"Getting these kids involved in football is something that we are really passionate about. We want to get them active, we want to create role models and we want them to come out and play.

"Hopefully we can take advantage of the players that are showing some potential and guide them down the correct pathways, and help some of them forge a career through football."

The Albion Foundation offered their support by providing both coaches to run the tournament, and trophies for the players, with the support of Apna Albion.

"It's a year from when Apna Albion first started and they have come on leaps and bounds in that time and we're in a position where Apna Albion are doing loads and loads of work in the community," said Rob Lake, The Albion Foundation's Director.

"Football is a great vehicle as it brings people together. There's a really diverse community but they have all come together today over the tournament and they are having a great time."

The Albion Foundation is doing its upmost to spur Asian youngsters into the game, and have already provided a special matchday experience and a session to coach the coaches of the local Punjabi grassroots clubs, delivered by Head of Sport Development at the charity, Dave Lawrence.

"It's very important that we are doing things like the football tournament today," said the Foundation's Engagement Officer, Gurdial Singh.

"It all goes back to grassroots, and that eternal question of why have we not got enough Asian players playing professionally?

"To be able to talk to the parents here and give them a point of contact is very useful as it helps them to get involved in our sessions."

The day ran smoothly, with a high footfall coming past the Foundation's stall to see what the charity can offer them - meaning that the impact of Albion's visit to the festival should last long after the event is over.

"They are friendly football matches for a Sikh festival," said one of the Smethwick Raiders players.

"I think it's really good because it is a good social event, as well as a fun event,"

For more information on how to get involved with The Albion Foundation's engagement projects, please contact

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