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Search for an Asian Soccer Star

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Asian Soccer Star kicked off under the sizzling May sunshine today, providing a fantastic afternoon for all at Cobham. Chief executive Peter Kenyon was joined by Portuguese international Deco and Football Icon winner, now regular reserve team player, Carl Magnay as aspiring Asian stars displayed their talents to Chelsea coaches in a bid to win a trial with the club.

Parents watched as the sun shone and their children were put through drills and tests for speed and agility before taking part in five or six-a-side games of football.

'This is incredibly important,' said Kenyon, 'It's not a one-off initiative, it's part of an overall community initiative of the club's where we go into the Asian communities and bring them to Chelsea.

'We have over 150 children here today and there are going to be over 450 over the next three days so that just shows the level of interest in the scheme.

'I have spoken to parents and kids here today and mentally there is no difference between them and any other youngsters in their love of football. So this is just about giving those children exposure to another side of football, which has got to be good,' Kenyon added.

Today saw Asian footballers from the age of 12 and under pit their talents against one another for a chance of winning the trial, tomorrow will be Under 13s before Under 14s get the opportunity on Monday.

Participants not only came from the UK, with competitors arriving from all over Europe, there was even a 10-year-old boy who travelled from Australia to take part. Yodishtra Jagatheson had embarked on a 23-hour journey from Melbourne to try his luck at gaining a trial with Chelsea.


Deco was impressed by the turnout and took a break from his rehabilitation from a hamstring injury to come and watch the afternoon unfold.

'This is not just important for English football but it is important for the kids,' explained Deco, 'It gives them the opportunity to play football and learn like they have today, which they may not normally do, and for Chelsea to do that is brilliant.'

Once all the training exercises were out of the way, it was time for the young Asians to team up and face each other in game situations, culminating in a final between Greens and Pinks, with the pink team running out a 4-0 victory.

In that triumphant side was the afternoon's eventual winner, 12-year-old A'ameer Kstantin Murphy, who wowed the coaches with his technical ability from early on.

'It was really challenging but that was the good thing about it, we had really good coaches and the matches were not like any other match, they were really hard but it was a great,' explained Kstantin Murphy.

Academy project manager Darren Grace handed Kstantin Murphy a trophy and Chelsea shirt to mark the day's victory, and is looking forward to welcoming him back for his trial in the summer.

'He will slot in with the Under 12s this summer and be treated like all the other kids on trial, but it's exciting,' said Grace.

'Chelsea recognises that the Asian community is a massive part of London and we wanted to offer those kids a trial and a chance of playing for Chelsea.

'We were blessed with the weather and Chelsea's facilities for hosting an event like this are among the best in the world,' added Grace.

Head of Football in the Community Shaun Gore was also happy with the way the afternoon unfolded.

'I'm delighted,' said Gore, 'The sun has brought everyone out and it has been a lovely day, the kids have all been enjoying themselves and it is great, and the fact that Peter Kenyon came down with Deco and Carl Magnay is fantastic.'

Source: Chelsea FC

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Sunday was the turn of under 13 entrants to Chelsea's Search for an Asian Soccer Star to compete for a place in the Chelsea Academy trials this summer. Players were also treated to a number of surprise visits from the first team including Ashley Cole who interrupted his warm down jog around the Cobham training ground to wish the kids the best of luck as well as Florent Malouda, Salomon Kalou and assistant manager Ray Wilkins who all joined the players for team pictures and to offer advice to the young hopefuls.

In a close run contest the eventual winner was Jordan Sadhu (pictured below) from Ilford who joins yesterday's U12s champion Aameer Kstantin Murphy for the Academy trials this August.


Kalou praised the project:

'It's a good initiative and I think it reflects how open Chelsea are. Today has shown just how much these kids love to get involved in football and if Chelsea can be the first club to start this sort of project, then it's a great opportunity to other teams to follow suit.

'This reminds me when I was a kid, going through these kinds of tests. It's good opportunity for them to show they can be at Chelsea and become professional players.

'I remember when I had football trials when I was younger and I was happy and really excited. It's not every day you have this sort of opportunity and I hope the ones who are chosen will have a good career and become great players.'

Saturday goalscorer Malouda added:

'I think it's a good thing for the kids that they have the opportunity to come to the training ground and for the winner a chance to achieve his dream and be in the Chelsea Academy.'

Source: Chelsea FC

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Three days of a well-attended new initiative by Chelsea drew to a close on Bank Holiday Monday with a new young player selected for trials and more praise for the event. Search for an Asian Soccer Star is a ground-breaking attempt to unearth potential professional footballers from a so far under-represented community at the top level of the sport.

A change is already beginning according to Jas Jassal, who brought seven youngsters he works with to Cobham over the weekend, including his own son Amandeep for today's Under 14s day.

Jassal is much-involved in running Concorde FC Juniors, providing grassroots football for Asian kids in west London.

'Ten years ago when I was playing I couldn't see an Asian football star coming through, but now in the next 10 years I can,' he said.

'Chelsea is the first big club to promote grassroots football among the Asian community and to look for a superstar and you'll find if one superstar comes out it, the whole Asian community will support him, not just in this country but in India as well.

'It is important to find that talent and nurture it because it needs mental attributes as well as physical ones. This has been a great three days for boys and for us to network.'

Once more the day was interrupted when members of the Chelsea first team squad took time out from working on their skills to lend support.

Petr Cech greeted the crowd before saying: 'You can see the smiles on the faces and they deserve to have their chance to show people what they can do, spending time here showing their skills and talent.

'It may only be a few kids that will get a trial, but this experience will give the other ones enough to join other clubs or get another dimension to their football. They may have played outside with friends but never had the structure for proper skill training. Now they may try for more of that.

'It is slow in England the people from the Asian community coming through as players. They have talent and passion about sport and it is good for there to be an opportunity in football.'

'They are living a dream to become professional footballers,' decided Nicolas Anelka as he looked on. 'To play at the Chelsea training ground and to enjoy it is a good feeling.

'Football is international and we should see it everywhere. Chelsea had a good idea and hopefully one day someone here today will become a professional footballer for Chelsea and maybe for England.'

The timetable for the day was the same as Saturday and Sunday - a series of individual tests that have been developed over time by the Chelsea Academy to evaluate core skill levels essential for a young player at an elite club.

These allow trialists to be measured against boys already in the Academy. They were followed by coaching sessions with Academy staff and in the afternoon, some proper games.

Highest scorer in the skills tests was Tarun Nijjer with approximately 91 per cent of the maximum mark. However judged the overall winner of the day was Jhai Singh Dhillon (pictured below) from Hitchen, Hertfordshire, who proved the openness of the contest by succeeding despite wearing a Barcelona kit!


He had bought it at the Camp Nou as a football tourist he explained and said: 'I am over the moon and I didn't expect to win at the beginning because there were so many people. The tests were challenging but I felt I had done pretty well in them.

'I'd tell anyone who is thinking about taking part to try it even if you don't think you are the best player. It is good fun.'

'He had two games yesterday for Hitchin Town,' revealed Jhai's father, 'and he said I want to go to the park after. I said no, rest, and he was up at 5 o'clock this morning!'

Just as exhausted at end was Chelsea Academy project manager Darren Grace who had overseen the event.

'Generally it was a real success,' he reported. 'We had in excess of 300 players across the three ages from places as far away as America and Glasgow and the standard was about what we expected, some good players, some not so good, but generally everyone enjoyed it which was the main thing.'

The winner from each age category will now take part in a three-day trial this summer with the Academy side of his age. Other players who caught the eye are likely to be invited to have involvement with Chelsea at some level.

Source: Chelsea FC

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