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Young Hatters visit West Ham for South Asian communities coaching session

13 May 2024

Community

Young Hatters visit West Ham for South Asian communities coaching session

13 May 2024

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Luton Town Community Trust are proud to launch a new scheme to increase participation and engagement with the South Asian community in Luton.

The aim of the scheme is to create more opportunities for participation within communities along with generating a clear pathway into elite football.

On Wednesday, ahead of the weekend's Premier League fixture between the two clubs, our Community Trust staff and a team of young players were invited down to West Ham United to participate in a collaboration which enabled both clubs to celebrate the work that is done in both communities.

Children from the South Asian communities representing Luton Town and West Ham listen to the coaches during the session next to London Stadium

Between them, the two areas of east London (the Boroughs of Newham, Redbridge, Tower Hamlets, Barking & Dagenham and Havering) and the Borough of Luton are home to more than 400,000 people with South Asian heritage – a region which includes India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Afghanistan, Bhutan, Maldives and Nepal.

Many thousands are passionate football fans, and both clubs have launched schemes to engage with those communities, provide pathways into football and, ultimately, to produce elite players and coaches of the future. 

The Hatters and Hammers play a leading role in progressing the Premier League’s South Asian Action Plan, with recent figures from the Professional Footballers' Association (PFA) showing signs of progress in the area.

The number of South Asian men's professional footballers in England and Wales has risen for the second year in a row and there are 22 professional players with South Asian heritage aged 17 or over in England's top four leagues this season, which is a 29% rise from 17 in 2022-23. 

Luton Town and West Ham youngsters enjoy their coaching session next to London Stadium

The overall percentage of South Asian professional players however remains low in England and Wales. There are around 5,000 professional footballers in the UK, with less than 1% with South Asian heritage. This compares with 9.3% of the overall UK population, who identify as Asian, Asian British or Asian Welsh. 

The participants of both clubs enjoyed sessions delivered by both Luton Town Community Trust staff and West Ham Academy staff at the London Marathon Community Track at London Stadium.

On the day, the participants were lucky enough to have current West Ham United players Angelo Ogbonna and Freddie Potts - younger brother of Town defender Dan Potts - as well as former Hammers centre-back Anton Ferdinand.

The players supported the delivery of the sessions, offering their expert advice and coaching points throughout delivery of sessions and matches.

We would like to thank West Ham for putting on the session, and sharing the gallery of images above.

Luton Town Community Trust Football Development Manager Alex Wallace said: “For us, it’s the start of a new programme we’re going to launch to increase South Asian participation and engagement in Luton, so this is a brilliant opportunity to bring a team down and mix in with West Ham, who have a very successful programme themselves.

"Kenilworth Road is in the middle of Bury Park in Luton, which is an area we are aiming to have much more engagement with as a Community Trust and hopefully we can support and find the under-represented talent that is there.

"It is about giving them the opportunity and creating that pathway for them. The goal is to have a player with South Asian heritage play for Luton Town’s first team and that’s why we’re launching our programme, to give opportunities to those who haven’t had them. That’s the dream.

"When you walk through the town centre now, the first shirt you see is Luton Town. It’s a very well-supported club and we’ve had a fantastic time over these past few years and long may that continue.”

For more details on this scheme and all of the Luton Town Community Trust’s programmes, follow @LTFC_Community on X, Luton Town FC Community Trust on Facebook or email community@lutontown.co.uk

Luton Town Community Trust football development manager Alex Wallace coaches the Luton and West Ham youngsters


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