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Ex-Real Madrid player: Mesut Ozil launches Development Centre for South Asians

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The former Real Madrid and Arsenal playmaker, Mesut Ozil has  joined forces with the Football Association and Football for Peace to launch a development centre for South Asians in England.

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The University of Bradford will host the centre, which will run football and life skill sessions at League Two side Bradford’s training ground.

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“I want to promote them, give them an opportunity to be successful both on and off the pitch,” said Ozil.

“I am from an ethnic diverse background and understand the challenges.”

Ozil, who is of Turkish origin, was born in Gelsenkirchen in Germany.

He went on to play 92 times for Germany and helped them win the 2014 World Cup.

Ozil is currently at Turkish side Fenerbahce after leaving Arsenal on a free transfer in January.

“I have always been surprised why the South Asian community are only allowed to be fans of the game,” he said. “Why are we not seeing more players or managers breaking into professional football?

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“I hope the Football for Peace Mesut Ozil Centre will become the platform they need.”

Figures last year showed British Asians make up about 7% of the UK population but only 0.25% of professional footballers.

Former British South Asian player Kashif Siddiqi is the co-founder of Football for Peace and the centre in Bradford is to be the “first as part of a nationwide initiative”.

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The aim is to promote “opportunities for members of ethnically diverse communities to be able to fulfil their aspirations by providing pathways into elite football and education”, with a number of Premier League and English Football League clubs having signed up to the initiative.


Written by Ishaq Mustafa

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