The Chelsea Foundation's continued support for the Zesh Rehman Foundation has seen two participants from the unique Sidelined-2-Sidelines initiative progress to coach within the club's community programmes.
The Foundation have been working closely with the ZRF since March to deliver Sidelined-2-Sidelines – its coach education and mentoring programme funded by the Premier League and the Professional Footballers' Association.
Sidelined-to-Sidelines has given 25 young participants from South London the opportunity to gain football-related qualifications, learn from professional club coaches and acquire the necessary skills to act as role models within the community.
The partnership has proved successful to date with Ragesh Nambiar and Fahad Najeeb both now coaching regularly within the Chelsea Foundation.
Ragesh - who lives in Thornton Heath - has achieved 5 qualifications through the programme including his FA Level 2 coaching badge, and revealed meeting Chelsea coach Rob Udberg had proved crucial in building his self-belief as a coach.
'When Rob Udberg came to deliver a workshop, he made us realise that you don't have to have been a professional player to become a top coach,' said Ragesh, who coaches two regular weekly sessions in Balham and Uxbridge.
'He told us that there are pathways in place if we work hard enough, and since being part of the Chelsea FC, I have definitely improved as a coach.
'All the staff are always passing on useful information to me to improve as a coach and I hope to continue my development and learn from everyone around me.
'To be part of Sidelined-2-Sidelined which is working closely with Chelsea to give more Asians a chance in the game is very special.'
The ZRF was launched in May 2010 by Pakistan captain Zesh Rehman, who became the first British Asian to play in the Premier League while playing for Fulham and currently plies his trade in the Malaysian Super League for Pahang FC.
The charity strives to change perceptions and myths surrounding British Asians in football by providing more opportunities in disadvantaged communities – combating cultural and religious barriers associated with communities which have a high number of South Asians.
'I am delighted that the funding from Premier League and PFA has enabled us to work closely with Chelsea FC and provide genuine pathways for the coaches on the programme,' said Rehman, who has previously supported our Asian Star programme.
'Chelsea have shown a continued commitment to encourage more Asian children to get into the game by holding their annual 'Asian Star' and by us now working more closely with the club we hope to play a bigger part in the next Asian Star.'
Read more about the programme on the Chelsea FC website by clicking here.