The latest edition of South Asians in Football Weekly is out after another decent week for the community in the Beautiful Game…
Panjabi Blues co-founder Sukh Singh will head up Birmingham City’s landmark new Official Supporters’ Clubs (OSC) network.
Singh has emerged as a prominent figure in a number of force-for-good initiatives at Blues in recent years, with his Panjabi Blues group raising more than £11,500 for Blue Nose Day in December, support of Birmingham City’s partnership with the Birmingham Children’s Trust after organising the very first ‘Sleep Out at St Andrews’.
An instantly recognisable figure at matches home and away, Singh was part of Birmingham City’s Equality, Diversity and Inclusion steering group last season. He also appeared live on Sky Sports News to react to the announcement Tom Brady had become a minority owner in the club.
Singh, who will work to represent supporters’ interests alongside fellow Platinum away member Paul Delves, told Sky Sports News: “It is an honour and a privilege to serve a wonderful institution like Birmingham City Football Club. Our club has supporters in every corner of the globe, and together we all want to see us up there with the very best when it comes to fans, football and entertainment.
“The official supporters club give us a unique opportunity to properly unite, bringing Blues fans everywhere closer to the club and making them part of the special journey that this football club is embarking upon.”
News of Singh’s appointment comes less than a week after British-Pakistani wonderkid Layla Banaras joined Wolves Women on a dual registration for the remainder of the season.
Banaras – who launched a nutrition guide and meal planner on Sky Sports News to help Muslim athletes fasting during Ramadan when she was just 14 – became the first South Asian heritage woman to represent Blues in the professional era when she turned out for Blues in last year’s Women’s FA Cup.
Banaras now looks set to make her Wolves debut against WSL opposition this weekend, with Wolves hosting Brighton in a Women’s FA Cup fifth-round tie.
Speaking after completing the deal to bring Banaras in, Wolves manager Dan McNamara said: “She’s a really talented individual, technically very good and we’re really looking forward to seeing her on the pitch.
“She can play in numerous positions. She can play in midfield, out wide, at full-back and is really comfortable on the ball and has a really good eye for a pass.
“She’s a young player who we can give opportunities to play senior football and see if we can help her along in her journey.”
Head of women and girls football Jenna Burke-Martin added: “Layla is a really talented player with an exciting future ahead of her in football and we look forward to welcoming her into the pack.”
Banaras, meanwhile, has become a youth ambassador for Birmingham Housing Week in effort to encourage young people to get involved in the conversation around housing in England’s Second City and what that could look like for future generations.
Banaras said: “I think it’s really important to create opportunities for young people as it gives them a voice and allows them to feel heard.”
Majestic Mahmood proves matchwinner
Mariam Mahmood grabbed an assist before scoring West Brom’s winner in a stunning 2-1 victory against Kira Rai’s Derby County.
Simran Jhamat and Mahmood both featured for West Brom, with Rai starting for the visitors as three girls from South Asian backgrounds took to the pitch in a keenly contested Midlands derby at Redditch United’s Valley Stadium.
Mahmood, who returned to the line-up after injury to make her first West Brom appearance of 2024, looked on her game from the first whistle, starting on the left flank as manager Siobhan Hodgetts-Still fielded an attacking line-up for the visit of the Ewes.
The 19-year-old attacker skinned Derby County’s full-back and squared for Niamh Deasy to convert West Brom’s opener, before smashing home what proved to be the winner after a delightful, flicked pass from Phoebe Warner.
There was also a touching moment during the first half when Derby County midfielder Amy Sims needed treatment for a head injury, with Rai joining the club’s medical staff to tend to her stricken team-mate during a 15-minute delay.
Pakistan international Zahmena Malik is the latest British player to make a move to Saudi Arabia.
Jordan Henderson might have cut short his stint in the country to join Ajax, but Leicester-born Nigeria international Ashleigh Plumptre is still playing in Saudi, with Malik now joining her after completing a move to Riyadh-based Al Hmmah.
Former Spurs academy star Malik played at London Seaward last season, with her stunning form earning her an international call-up.
Malik grabbed a memorable 89th-minute assist on her international debut in a historic clash against Comoros last year, with Pakistan’s women playing African opposition for the first time.
The east Londoner, who featured in last year’s launch of the first South Asian heritage female player timeline, scored Pakistan’s winner in an Olympic qualifier against Tajikistan last April.
“Zahmena has been an amazing find for the Pakistan National Team and having scored the country’s winning goal in our first-ever Olympic qualifying win, it’s clear that she can certainly play at a high level in Asia,” Footballistan podcast host Shahrukh Sohail told Sky Sports News.
“Al Hmmah are an ambitious club who are well-positioned to challenge at the higher echelons of the game in Saudi Arabia in coming years.”
Former Aston Villa midfielder Arjan Raikhy followed up on his FA Cup appearance for Leicester City, by making his Championship debut in a 3-1 victory for the Foxes against Swansea City.
Raikhy started for Leicester’s U21s, two days after making an appearance in the 3-0 FA Cup win over Birmingham City, before coming on as a substitute in the win against the Swans less than 24 hours later.
Sky Sports News exclusively revealed back in August Raikhy had signed for Leicester as a free agent after leaving Villa where he had been part of the FA Youth Cup-winning team.
Raikhy made his senior debut in English football in an FA Cup third-round tie against Liverpool in 2021.
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