FORMER Sporting Bengal United and Ware boss Anwar Uddin reckons increased Asian involvement in football will hugely benefit Non-League.
Uddin, who helped set up the Panjab FA organisation, watched on as England C were recently ran close at Solihull Moors.
The former Dagenham &?Redbridge defender, who now works promoting inclusion and diversity for the Football Supporters’ Federation, also has a special place in his heart for Non-League.
He combined his two passions in helping to set up the landmark friendly at Damson Park, and Uddin – who was the first British Asian to captain a team in the Football League – hopes Non-League clubs will eventually reap the rewards.
“To see the England C side, and some of the quality players they brought down, play the Panjab FA was a real honour,” he told The NLP.
“We want to encourage everyone to get involved in football. The crowd was so diverse and that’s rare.
“There are some clubs that sit in real diverse communities around the country – why can’t those people get in touch with their local Non-League clubs and go and support them?
“I know everybody likes to follow the big sides but there are communities that have really historic, traditional Non-League clubs on their doorstep.
“Non-League is magical. I’ve spent a lot of time in it and it has a special welcoming aura – we want everybody to embrace that. I don’t want the Asian community’s involvement with football to be just through the TV.
“The message we’re sending is to go out to your local clubs – they’re part of your community and part of who you are.
“At Non-League level I work with fans all over the country and they would love more support for their clubs.
“Money at this level is tight so if you can get more through the gate and create a better atmosphere, it’s great for everyone.”
Uddin, who also works closely with the FA, Premier League and EFL, was full of praise for the England C side and boss Paul Fairclough, who he played under at Barnet.
“I’ve watched the likes of Darren McQueen and most of the England C squad over the course of the season and they have been very impressive,” he added.
“Just like in the past with Jamie Vardy and so many others, they play in Non-League and in five years time they’re in the Championship or League One because Paul does a great job and they’ve got so much quality.”