Tower Hamlets boy wins Chelsea FC’s Asian Star tournament

A football fanatic from Tower Hamlets fought off the competition to win the under-12s group at Chelsea FC’s Asian Star tournament last weekend.

Saidul Islam Khan, 12, of Booker Close, competed with almost 100 other players from his age group for the chance to win a year-long placement within the Chelsea Foundation’s Elite Training Centre.

The tournament, which was held last Saturday (May 26), was set up in 2009 in an attempt to tackle the under-representation of Asian players in professional football.

Saidul, a left-winger, has played football for almost seven years, and tried unsuccessfully to take part in the tournament last year. He is now in year 7 at St Paul’s Way Trust school, and appears regularly for his local team, Acorn FC.

When asked about his success in this year’s competition he couldn’t hide his delight, telling The Advertiser: “It was a great feeling, and I’m really proud of myself - especially as there were so many people in the competition. The secret to it is training hard, and I train almost every day, even when I’m on my own.”

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The tournament was overseen by staff from the Chelsea Foundation as well as a selection of prominent figures from within Asian football.

There were four age groups in total, meaning the tournament played host to almost 400 aspiring young Asian footballers from across London and the South East.

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Pakistan international Kashif Siddiqi, who gave a presentation at the tournament on Asians in football, praised the potential impact of the tournament on young Asian players.

He said: “It’s a great initiative and I’m hoping a number of other clubs can now blueprint this model. What Chelsea are doing is not just great for young Asian footballers but the community as a whole. If I had something like this when I was growing up it would have eradicated a lot of the barriers I faced, so I’m very appreciative of what the club are doing.”

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