Two inspirational individuals from Arsenal Football Club will be going for glory this evening (January 24) at the first ever Asian Football Awards (AFA) at Wembley Stadium.
Dinesh Vijayan and Taff Islam-Rahman will join a number of exceptional UK Asians at the high-profile event that is expected to attract a number of stellar guests to support and celebrate Asians in football. The awards are being supported by The FA and Kick It Out and will ensure that those working or investing in the professional game or community sport have the opportunity to receive acclaim for their achievements in developing Asians in Football.
Dinesh has been shortlisted for the ‘Grass Roots Hero’ award through his outstanding work as an Arsenal in the Community Disability Football Officer. After joining the Club as a coach on the voluntary Gap Year programme back in 2008, he initially coached children with autism, working closely with the Club’s former Charity of the Season, Treehouse, where he spent two days a week working full time to support the P.E. Department with the delivery of basic football sessions. Alongside this, Dinesh also delivered part of Arsenal in the Community’s core programme such as after-school clubs in mainstream schools.
Since then, Dinesh has continued to pioneer the Club’s work for children with special needs, developing resources and starting football sessions across a number of other local schools. These include Oak Lodge, a special school in Barnet, and Robert Blair, a mainstream school in Islington with a deaf unit where Dinesh has also helped to develop some pioneering work with the speech therapy unit. For the last two years, he has also run Arsenal’s visually impaired and deaf football sessions as well as a weekly session for adults and youths with learning difficulties through The Elfrida Society and The Leighton Project.
As well as working in schools, Dinesh works tirelessly alongside several local and national disability charities such as Actionnaires, Centre 404, British Blind Sport and NDCS to help promote healthy and active lifestyles to disabled young people through the medium of football.
Daniel Licudi from Oak Lodge’s P.E. Department, said: “Dinesh has been instrumental in helping some of our less able students access physical education, including times when it has not been possible to run football sessions. Through him and his sessions, some of our more reluctant students have completely changed the way they look on and approach PE in school.”
Taffazul ‘Taff’ Islam-Rahman, meanwhile, is a former Arsenal trainee who has been nominated in the ‘Coach of the Year’ category. Taff has helped to set up the Pro Touch Soccer Academy, which aims to help talented young players from disadvantaged backgrounds achieve their dream of playing professional football. The success of Pro Touch Soccer Academy is well respected within professional academies, with the organisation producing 25 players who have gone on to sign professional terms with clubs in the past five years.
Taff has also been coaching at the Club's Hale End Training centre for the past five years, working with 9-13 year-olds in the Academy. He is currently working towards completing his A Licence with the support of the PFA, The FA and Arsenal Football Club.
More recently, Taff has been based at London Colney working as a full-time football analyst and gaining invaluable coaching experience under the guidance of Steve Bould and Neil Banfield.
Speaking about the awards, Co-Founder Imran Hassan, said: “We have seen positive movement within the development of Asians in the game. We feel that recognition and acknowledgement of individuals and organisations is a fundamental part of developing more individuals in the professional game.
"I am delighted to be involved in the Asian Football Awards and look forward to celebrating all aspects of the game from investors, players, coaches and those involved behind the scenes.”
In November 2011, Arsenal Football Club became the first club to receive Kick It Out's Advanced Level of the Equality Standard, after providing detailed evidence on what it is doing to promote diversity and equality. This includes work in the community, engagement with fans and the development of Club policies and processes to create equal opportunities for all.
Arsenal Football Club would like to congratulate Dinesh and Taff on their nominations and wish them the best of luck at tonight’s awards ceremony.Copyright 2016 The Arsenal Football Club plc. Permission to use quotations from this article is granted subject to appropriate credit being given to www.arsenal.com as the source