Since then have I changed my mind?
No I haven’t, but from what I have personally experienced there seems to be an issue where the question needs to be asked:
“Are we actually helping ourselves to reach higher standards within the game?”
The main argument about Indian players not making it to the professional ranks lies at youth level. Here I fully support the fact that Indian players are overlooked by the professional clubs when it comes to not just inviting players to Academies but to keeping them there.
A club can turn around and say well we have had over 100 Indian kids come through to our Academy so your argument is not conclusive.
My point is well if you’ve had those 100 are they all not good enough? Also if you have had these youngsters with you for a period of time, and I’m talking years not months, does the problem lie with your coaches or the players?
However if we find that door closed, do we simply give up, accept that is the way it is and have debates about it for years to come?
It seems to me that an Indian player and more than that, his or her family but predominantly the male player will accept his fate and give up once he has found out that no club has taken him on by the age of 16.
It then becomes a situation of concentrating on their studies or work and football becoming secondary in their aspirations.
Of course you cannot blame anyone, whether they are Indian or not for thinking like that.
But the fact of the matter is not everyone thinks like that, not everyone accepts their fate and not everyone gives up.
Les Ferdinand, Kerry Dixon, Stan Collymore, Kevin Phillips, DJ Campbell, Alan Pardew, Steve Guppy, Ian Wright, Chris Smalling.
What have these players got in common?
They all started with non-league clubs and look where their determination got them.
I have been fortunate this season to work with very talented players who play at a very good standard against teams who are predominantly from around the Birmingham and surrounding region.
I have met fellow Managers, Coaches and opposition players who have been very professional in their demeanour and attitude but very open and friendly towards my team and players and staff.
Not once have I ever thought to myself this club or person portrays hints of racism.
We are talking about playing clubs who have without a shadow of doubt large Asian communities around them.
We are talking about the second biggest City in England.
So how many Indian players have I seen playing at this level?
The answer is 4!!!
Out of those 4, three of the lads play for me! The other one was on the bench for the opposition when we played them.
So are we going to blame the F.A and professional clubs for this too?
There are players who play for me who travel from Birmingham to Warwick; they even attend training whenever they can in midweek. There is a player who is studying for a degree at Trent University who plays for the club.
How many Indian players would do the same if they had to travel to Birmingham each week?
Would English or black players? I believe they would. Not all but some of them, those who wanted to get noticed.
To do that requires determination, desire and a willingness to play football at a high level and to play at the highest level your talents will allow you to.
There are many incentives to carry on playing beyond youth level and to try and attain a level that befits your talents. The money in football nowadays means Managers at the lower end of the League spectrum are turning to the non leagues as transfer prices for professional players are ludicrous. They know that there are just as talented players in the non leagues as there are in some areas of the professional game.
The England C National Football Team (previously known as the England National Game XI and the England Semi-Pro national team) is the football team that represents England at non league level. Formed in 1979 as the England Non-League team, it features players who play for clubs outside of Football League so there are still massive ways to get yourself noticed.
As an Indian player you may face obstacles at youth level, you may feel hard done by.
You probably are better than the guy that the professional club decided to offer a contract to.
But football does not end at youth level, you have to persevere and see where it takes you.
Professional clubs may not look beyond colour and preconceptions but I believe Non League clubs will.
However when you get to this level, it is not like youth football where talent alone can take you so far. Here you better be as fit and as strong, physically and mentally as the man next to you. If you’re not then the one to blame will be facing you in the mirror.