Wednesday, October 09, 2013

BFA Awards Night 2013

Annual awards celebrates the rise of grassroots talent

Emdad Rahman: Amidst much glitzy glamour, the Bangladesh Football Association (BFA) squeezed in almost 1000 guests as it held its annual awards night at Stepney’s Troxy hall. The much feted event has become one of the most important nights in local grassroots football.

On that same day the BFA had featured prominently in a Sky Sport despatch whereby an excellent feature report was broadcast to highlight the exceptional grassroots effort taken by the management and volunteers to train local youngsters in helping them achieve dreams of playing professional football.

BFA coach Imrul Ghazi said: “We teach children about values, about respect, about healthy lives. We ask parents to become more involved. One day young people from these fields will grace pitches in all leagues and with that in mind we work to ingrain hard working ethics within them.”

Ex West Ham United, Sheffield Wednesday, Bristol Rovers and Dagenham & Redbridge captain Anwar Uddin leads the flagship Sporting Bengal Academy and is also a patron to the BFA.

Taking to the stand Uddin highlighted his hopes of Asians making the professional grade in mainstream football and is hopeful of rising stars: "The contribution of coaches and parents is significant and I want to acknowledge those who spend their time and effort day in and day out to help the next generation of footballers.

"The Premier League is very competitive and players compete within a global market. I see no reason why we can't have a crop of young Asians making the grade in the Championship; League one, League 2, and even non League.

“Nothing would make me prouder than to play a hand in delivering a crop of readymade footballers to mainstream football.”

Tony Carr MBE, the current Director of Youth Development at West Ham United football club's youth academy is widely recognised as one of the most influential figures in English football. During his illustrious career, Carr, who as a fledgling striker cleaned the boots of Bobby Moore, Martin Peters and Sir Geoff Hurst, has trained Rio Ferdinand, Frank Lampard, Joe Cole, Michael Carrick, Jermain Defoe, Glen Johnson and John Terry.

Carr was invited to share his experiences: "I was born and bought up in the Devons Road area so like you all I'm very local.

"The likes of Anwar had a good football education with us and he definitely won't be the last Bangladeshi footballer to make the grade. It's just a matter of time and my advice is simple - keep practising, keep working hard and you never know who's watching."

Sporting Bengal manager Mamun Choudhury MBE spoke about his pride in managing the boroughs senior team: "Ours is a unit that is made of all nationalities and I believe we accurately represent the make up of the borough. It's a great pleasure to manage Sporting and I give you my commitment that we will continue to strive and strive until we reach the highest levels of excellence."

Zakir Khan's contribution to the BFA was recognised by current chairman Aroz Miah. In his acceptance speech he said that he still had the same desire to support his community just as he had as a sprightly youngster.

Khan thanked the BFA management and in a welcome gesture invited all the BFA management and volunteers up onto the stage to enjoy a loud round of applause from the huge crowd of guests.

John Garwood from Canary Wharf Group pledged future support: "The Canary Wharf group are always proud to support the BFA and the fantastic work they do. With my West Ham hat on I’d like to ask the community to take up Anwar Uddin's challenge and I look forward to the day when a local Bangladeshi youngster can complete his journey from the training pitches of West Ham United to the Olympic stadium."

Community coach Rashid Abba from West Ham spoke about his beginnings with Leicester City. Abba added that his expertise gained with the Foxes whilst at Filbert Street had held him in very good stead in east London. He was joined on stage by Tower Hamlets Councillor Rofique Ahmed.

Tower Hamlets Mayor Lutfur Rahman is the only BME Mayor in Europe. He spoke of his immense pride at the achievements of the footballers and thanked parents, management and the BFA for the progress being made: “Football is a unifying medium. It is intense, nervy and provokes passion. These are key ingredients in the makeup of an ideal and positively contributing citizen. I am confident that with the BFA making such efforts it is only a short time before young people from this room take the step onto the bigger professional leagues.”

M1 Claims Management very generously provided all the trophies for the event and fellow sponsors Hunter & Bloomfield and Sonali Bank UK joined them in presenting awards to winners. The contribution of the role of the sponsors in supporting grassroots football was mentioned and acknowledged.

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