sports gazette

Panjab FA set to face England C in a landmark fixture at Solihull Moors

Panjab FA training before their match against Jersey FA
Published: 20 May 2017

Panjab FA will put their name on the footballing map on Sunday 28th May when they become the first south-Asian team to face an England team at a competitive level.

Panjab FA will be hoping to put the England C team to the test with their best Panjabi players named in the squad.

Panjab founder and CEO, Harpreet Singh thinks this will be a ground breaking fixture.

He said: “What’s key is it puts Panjab’s name out there and people think these Panjabi people can do some beautiful stuff.”

The diversity and campaigns manager at the Football Supporters Federation, Anwar Uddin, has worked hard with the FA to get this game to go ahead and thinks this game will be history in the making.

Singh believes this game could allow Asian footballers with a potential breakthrough into the national game and Panjab manager Reuben Hazell is hopeful that this game will open a lot of doors.

He said: “I think if we give them the platform which we are and they keep performing how they have been performing then they will get noticed.

“I just think the more they play on these kinds of platforms and in front of the people that are coming to watch then I think the platforms there for them to shine.”

Uddin said: “If I had something similar 15/16 years ago, I would have embraced it with open arms.

“They are all searching for that opportunity and that bit of luck and I don’t think there’s a greater platform for them. This will be a massive test.

“You couldn’t have put together a team of British Asians until 2010, I think you would have even struggled then, but you can now, so were getting the numbers, so that’s encouraging.”

I would just love to see Panjab have some support there, we want to bring a touch of culture, class and community to the event.
Hazell added: “There’s a lot of Asian boys with a lot of ability that I didn’t know they had and they have proved to me that Asian players should be playing professional football.”

Panjab FA gained international status in 2014 and Hazell’s team came runners up in the CONIFA world cup which provided opportunities for some players.

Hazell said: “I don’t see why any of the boys should be scared of it, or should be terrified by what we’re going into here. 

“We’ve played on a big stage at the world cup in front of a lot of fans against good players, so to me it’s just another big game where they need to be focused and concentrate on what we’re telling them.”

Uddin encouraged players to enjoy the fixture and to play like it’s going to be the last game they will play in their life.

He said: “I guarantee there will be people there watching and if they do well it’s a fantastic opportunity to prove to people that Asians can play football.”

Singh believes that this game is for the whole community to embrace and he wants to create ambassadors for the community.

He said: “When players play, the fans and the potential aspiring footballers take to them as role models.”

Uddin added: “I would just love to see Panjab have some support there, we want to bring a touch of culture, class and community to the event.

“I want the drums, the colour, the dance, the singing and I want England C team players to turn up and think wow, this is different."

Kick-off is at 3pm on Sunday 28th May at Damson Park, Solihull Moors FC and tickets are free.

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