The F.A have today marked 2022 South Asian Heritage Month by publishing an update on phase two of it’s Asian inclusion strategy, Bringing Opportunities to Communities, as well as releasing the latest episode of their latest Football and Me content series.
The strategy was released in 2019 and aims to increase Asian participation across all levels of English football, both on and off the pitch. Asian communities make up the biggest ethnic minority community in England, and while there is more to be done in this area, progress is being made with the number of Asian people playing, coaching, refereeing and in off-pitch roles increasing.
Within grassroots football, male and female Asian participation [aged 16+] is now at 11.9% [2021: 10.7%] and 15.4% [2021: 13.5%] respectively. However, the number of professional players of Asian heritage remains significantly lower and tackling Asian underrepresentation at all levels of the game continues to be a strategic priority for The FA.
The full update can be found here, with details of progress being made against five strategic pillars. These include:
• The FA and its culture: Making inclusion a priority across the organisation, setting targets and holding itself to account for improving the diversity of its workforce
• Pathways: Mobilisation of The FA’s grassroots diversity and inclusion team focused on developing coaching talent; creation of grassroots diversity and inclusion coach mentors and community champions; and fully funded places for FA coaching awards
• Grassroots football: Launch of the Football Leadership Diversity Code for the National League System, Women’s pyramid and grassroots football; collaboration with County FA Inclusion Advisory Groups; The FA’s Faith and Football programme; and improving focus on diversity in refereeing
• Women’s football: Employment of UEFA Women’s EURO 2022 recreational football officers to improve participation as a legacy of England hosting the tournament; providing greater access to FA participation programmes for Asian women; and continued support through The FA’s Asian Women’s Football Advisory Group
• Engagement: Supporting Asian England fan groups and the launch of the award-winning content series, Football and Me, during 2021 South Asian Heritage Month
Dal Darroch, our Head of Diversity & Inclusion Strategic Programmes, said: “We’ve made good progress in this area in recent years, but we know there is more to be done to make the game more accessible for diverse communities both on and off the pitch. We’re pleased to see more Asian people playing, coaching and refereeing within the game and continuing to grow these participation levels remains a strategic priority for our organisation. We know that Asian communities make up the largest ethnic minority group in England and we’re dedicated to ensuring this is better reflected across our game.”
To also mark 2022 South Asian Heritage Month, we have released the latest episode of our award-winning content series, Football and Me, aiming to inspire people within Asian and wider communities to participate in English football.
We released the first series of Football and Me in July 2021, with a six-part video series featuring players, coaches and match officials of Asian heritage. Following the recent historic victory for England at UEFA Women’s EURO 2022, the first instalment of season two features two players from the women’s game: West Bromwich Albion FC Women’s Mariam Mahmood and Derby County FC Women’s Kira Rai, who share their inspirational journeys to date and their hopes for the future.
In addition, we have also now published the 2022-23 editions of our equality, diversity and inclusion calendar for grassroots football and our ‘Faith and Football’ educational document. Both are designed to help participants make the game more inclusive and truly welcoming for their local communities. The guides can be found in the links above.
We have also ramped up our efforts to improve the reporting processes for incidents of discrimination and physical abuse. Together with Kick It Out, we’re seeking to make grassroots football a safer, more inclusive and enjoyable environment for everybody and is encouraging participants – especially those from historically underrepresented communities – to share their experiences of serious incidents. The findings of this research will help The FA and Kick It Out to address unwanted behaviour and improve the reporting process for all. Click here to learn more about this.