Bradford teams mark one year of sporting success
It was a night of celebration in Bradford earlier this month as the Bangla Bantams and Shapla Football Club held their one-year anniversary awards ceremony to acknowledge the individuals and teams who have played a part in their success to date.
The Royal Taj Banqueting Suite in Bradford hosted over two hundred people of all ages from across the community, where a number were handed awards for their achievements.
The Bangla Bantams and Shapla FC were formed to help the local South Asian Community promote and increase sports participation – for both boys and girls – in the Bradford area.
Both projects were set up with help from the Fans For Diversity (FFD) campaign fund, which is jointly run by Kick It Out and the Football Supporters Federation (FSF).
Kick It Out was in attendance to show support, as well as other partners including West Riding County FA, Bradford City FC, Sporting Equals and Bradford Park Avenue.
Bradford City winger Mark Marshall popped along to show his backing and spoke on stage alongside Anwar Uddin, the FSF’s Diversity and Campaigns Manager.
Mark said: “The local community are trying to get more Asian people to participate in sports and it looks like it’s working, across the age groups. In the future I think there will be more Asian professional footballers.
“To see the dedication of those involved is really encouraging and I can only see it getting bigger and better.”
The link with Bradford City is described as a ‘crucial one’ with the teams working alongside the Bantams to encourage the Asian community to attend games and support Phil Parkinson’s League 1 play-off chasers.
Ian Ormondroyd, Manager at Bradford City FC’s Community Foundation, was impressed by the evening and added: “From our point of view it is fantastic to see the local community attending matches.
“We want as many people as possible to come and support Bradford City. With the city having such a diverse and multi-cultural population it’s important, and to also find an Asian player in the future as well.
“It is improving on the terraces with the number of Asian fans so it’s getting better all the time.”
Ian, a former striker with Bradford, Aston Villa and Leicester City amongst others, also acknowledged how pleasing it was see young Asian girls taking part in the beautiful game.
Rukshana Jannath, Girls Coach at Shapla FC, spoke about her involvement with the weekly sessions and how interest from Asian girls has grown in a short period of time.
“My child wanted to get involved in football so I looked around for a team for her,” explained Rukshana, who herself has played the game.
“I mentioned to one of the guys at Shapla about starting my own project and he said it would be great.
“I do it on a voluntary basis but the girls who attend absolutely love it. It feels so good to give back to the community and to them.
“To see that they enjoy it and their passion is so amazing. It has progressed after only a few months and the numbers are growing.”
Rukshana felt the awards evening meant a lot to the girls she coaches. “The girls have enjoyed it and they feel part of something. To get a medal and trophies means a lot to them, and it means a lot to me as I feel really proud of them.
“I just hope I’ve planted a seed with them about what football can be and I hope they can develop further.”
Since their inception, Shapla and Bangla Bantams have run several initiatives with the local South Asian community, including an array of grassroots projects for boys and girls, for a number of sports alongside football.
Humayun Islam, one of the co-founders of Shapla FC and Bangla Bantams, was proud of the achievements to date and how so many local people and supporters gathered to mark the occasion.
“It was a fantastic night,” he said with a wide smile. “It was all about the youth and that’s what we want to come across through the partnership work we do.
“As a result of events like this, with kids receiving medals, they will become inspired and they’re our future generations.
“Not all will become professional footballers, but they can be the volunteers and coaches of the future. They will see sport as another option for them.
“It is about understanding our differences but discovering our similarities through football. That’s what we do. With football there are no barriers.”