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Football - Singh ready to tackle Premiership no-go area

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  • dream

    it would be good to see another asian make it big in the premiership after the teen sensation michael chopra made his mark with england u17's and know with newcastle.

    i hopw singh will be given the opportunity to start in the staring x1 regulalrly and i want to see more asian players develop their understand of the game by actaully experiencing it on the pitch.

    its nice to see asians pulling through the ranks and it shows that talent is their it just needs to be exposed like mikky owen in 1998 world cup and know wizzz kid rooney so this shows that foreigners don't only dominate the english game their is home grown talent availabe...........

    well i hope it goes well for all of em' and i hope racism is show the red card in the sport and this multi-culural nation


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  • Mr Fraudia

    thanks for the post, this could be the start, thereare players in lower divisions but this will be good.

    How much do you think it has to do with asians usually not encouraging their kids to be serious in sports, espcially sports which are not considered desi.

    entry barriers are partially to blame, but if you look at the pyramid of how mny ppl play, to how many ppl make it to pros to how many ppl move up the divisions, its a wonder that he is there even if there were no entry barriers, know what i mean?

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  • Football - Singh ready to tackle Premiership no-go area

    Singh ready to tackle Premiership no-go area

    AS HE rode into Newcastle as a black and white knight, Jonathan Woodgate called for help to still the twitching curtains. “I’m not a racist,” he said. “Ask Harpal Singh.” In a room covered by photographs of Muhammad Ali and Pelé, the doyen of Asian football in this country delivered his verdict in clipped Yorkshire vowels. “I’ve known Woodgate since I was 12,” Singh said. “I’ve never had a problem with him. Personally, I don’t think what happened was a racial thing.”
    When Woodgate name-checked Singh after signing for Newcastle United, some onlookers may have exchanged quizzical glances. Harpal who? Little-known outside Yorkshire, Bury and his ethnic group, the Leeds United reserve thinks he is ready to enter the mainstream and, by a quirk of fate, the departure of Lee Bowyer, still struggling to erase the stains of bigotry, might open the door that has been shut to British Asians.

    While Leeds fans wring their hands at the Elland Road exodus, the winger has spied an opportunity. He said that he got on “fine” with Bowyer but believes that dwindling midfield numbers could enable him to become the first British Asian to play Premiership football.
    He is already the first to have appeared in the Nationwide League first division, making three appearances on loan to Bradford City, his home-town club, in November. Only Michael Chopra, the Newcastle striker who has played as a substitute in the European and Worthington Cups, appears capable of getting there first.

    “The fact Lee Bowyer and Olivier Dacourt have gone means I am further up the pecking order,” Singh said. “It’s good news for me. I feel I’m closer than ever. I’m 21 and just want to be playing first-team football.”

    It cannot have been easy for Singh during the past few years. Trials in Hull, riots in Bradford and the mounting expectations of Asians all over the country might have blurred a lesser focus, but he takes it in his stride. “The trial wasn’t hard for me,” he said. “People kept asking me what was going on and I said: ‘I don’t know, it’s nothing to do with me.’ What has gone on has gone on and I’m not going to let it affect me. I’m proud to play for Leeds United.”

    Singh’s progress has required deft handling by HN Sports, the Leeds-based agency. It has tried to ensure that Singh is viewed as a footballer rather than a cultural totem or token. “None of these things bother him,” Hayden Evans, the managing director, said. “All that worries him is making the breakthrough.” The bench is the closest he has come.

    Racism, parental pressure and the absence of role models have been trotted out as reasons for the lack of Asians in British football. It is seven years since Jas Bains and Raj Patel produced their damning report — Asians Can’t Play Football — which claimed that 69 per cent of professional club officials felt that Asians were physically inferior. Singh insists that nobody at Leeds agrees. “The coaches believe in me,” he said. “Only one other lad who signed forms when I did at 16 is still here.”

    His family has also backed him all the way. “They’re why I’m here,” Singh said. “I had an older brother and sister who would get out of bed on cold Sunday mornings to watch me. My Mum and Dad come to games now. I’ve known a lot of Asian players who’ve not had that support. If they were playing in white teams, they would have to get lifts off the parents of the white players. At the end-of-season do’s their parents would not be there.

    “I’ve always known it’s going to be different with me being Asian, but it’s not extra pressure. If I get stick, I’ll just try to blank it out.” That has not always been easy. Once, during a youth-team game, he was racially abused by a Huddersfield Town player. “I overreacted,” he said. “I hope I’ve learnt from that and will go through the right channels next time.” The guilty player later sent Singh a written apology.

    After loan spells with Bury, where he was popular enough to have his own terrace chant amended from the pop song Sing, by Travis, Bristol City and Bradford, he is back at Leeds. Five years have passed since George Graham said: “Liverpool may have Michael Owen, but we have Harpal Singh.” The irony will be marked if the January sales in Leeds finally provide him with his chance. Not everything, it seems, is black and white.


    Asian participation has been long overdue in this game. Maybe this is the start.