The new facility, named The Football for Peace Mesut Ozil Center, will be hosted at the University of Bradford and is supported by Bradford City and the Football Association.
While Britain’s Afro-Caribbean population is well represented in elite sport, particularly soccer, British Asians are under-represented with just 15 South Asian footballers among the 4,000 professional players.
“I’ve always been surprised why the South Asian community is only allowed to be fans of the game, why don’t we see more players or coaches entering professional football?” Ozil said. “I want to promote them, give them the opportunity to be successful on and off the pitch.
“I myself come from a diverse ethnic background and understand the challenges. “
Ozil, World Cup winner with Germany in 2014, is of Turkish descent and now plays for Fenerbahce in Istanbul.
The Bradford center will host football and ‘life skills’ sessions at the Bradford City training ground.
This year’s British team at the Olympic and Paralympic Games in Tokyo highlighted the lack of representation within the British South Asian community with only one athlete of this ethnicity – wheelchair rugby gold medalist Ayuz Bhuta .
The organization British Asians in Sport and Physical Activity (BASPA) claims that the lack of representation in elite sport of a community which represents 6.9% of the British population is “astonishing” with outdated stereotypes making part of the problem.
“While other ethnically diverse communities are able to find their way into elite sports, the British South Asian community is often overlooked,” said Manisha Tailor, vice president of coaching at BASPA.
“There is also a lot of misinformation and outdated stereotypes about our community which has created an unconscious bias towards our energy and passion for sports that are not just cricket or hockey.”