Cricket star sees football strides being made

Former England cricket captain Nasser Hussain is lending his support to Chelsea’s Asian Star initiative, which makes its Stamford Bridge debut on June 3.

Hussain, who captained England from 1999 to 2003 and played 96 Test matches during his international career, was born in India before moving to England as a child where his talent for cricket was spotted by his local county Essex.

The former batsman is among a healthy list of British Asians who have represented England at cricket. He believes football needs to do more to ensure another generation of talented young Asian footballers do not slip through the net.

Asian Star is one such programme attempting to do this and is designed to give a much-needed boost to Asian participation at all levels of the game with this year’s event taking place at the Bridge for the very first time.

Hussain - who scored more than 8,000 international runs during a stellar career - was a guest of the Chelsea Foundation’s during the 3-1 win over Arsenal earlier this season. He said: ‘It is very important to have events like this. We have done similar in cricket for some time and the challenge for Chelsea and football is to replicate that.

‘I was a guest of the Foundation at Stamford Bridge and they are making great strides with Asian Star and doing a lot of other good work. Football is growing in that part of the world and players need the chance to shine and show they love the game and have the talent.

‘These things don’t happen overnight and the longevity of this programme shows the club’s commitment and hopefully it will lead to a breakthrough.

‘Football is a global game and it is important to recognise that and develop talent from Asian backgrounds. My boys play football and there are a lot of British Asian youngsters playing the game and it is important we tap in to that and offer support as Chelsea are doing.’

Having been held at our Cobham training base for each of the past eight seasons, Asian Star is open to players aged 9 to 12 with applications now open.

Launched in 2009, last year’s event attracted almost 400 young players and their parents to our Cobham training ground, where they competed in a series of matches and tests to examine speed, skill and ability. The winners in each age group were all invited to join the Chelsea Foundation’s Football Development Centres.

Asian Star returns on Saturday 3 June, with applications for players aged 9 to 12 now open, for more information click to visit Asian Star.