I also host community Iftars during Ramadan, public charity events

“I also host community Iftars during Ramadan, public charity events, and my very own mosque league on Sunday night where mosques in south London come together and play each other in a league format.

“The sessions demonstrate how inclusive this Get Involved project is and how it caters to all ages in the community.

“My mentor being by my side and constantly giving me advice on how to become a better coach, as well as praising me for my work, has boosted my confidence. Being able to coach young people has also allowed me to enhance my leadership skills and express my passion for the sport.

“Football is important to me as I not only use it as a form of physical exercise but also as an escapism. It allows me to clear my mind and get away from stress that I may have with university or work.

“And football is significant in my community because it serves as a platform for social integration, encouraging interaction and cooperation among various groups of people. It provides a common ground for people from all walks of life to come together, celebrate successes, and support one another, fostering social cohesion within the community without making anyone feel judged.

“Participating in Get Involved has given me a sense of belonging. There is a significant amount of discrimination against Asians in football, and as an Asian myself, giving young people the opportunities that I never had makes me feel like I am in the right profession.

“It makes me feel happy that I am able to give back to the community and help younger people achieve their footballing ambitions. What I like most is seeing a lot of young people attend the sessions and giving them the opportunity that I never had while growing up.

“Get Involved has helped engage and include the Asian community in football, as it takes into consideration religious timings, festivities and religious calendar across the year.

“It has provided me with a platform to be able to participate at the sessions when I was younger, giving me the opportunity to develop my footballing ability and express myself on the pitch. They also introduced me to different avenues, for example the opportunity to become a coach.

Here, we take a look at the incredible impact of some of these programmes.

Since 2010, the Premier League and Professional Footballers’ Association’s Community Fund has enabled clubs across England and Wales to develop and deliver community programmes that are tailored to needs in their local area.

Here, we take a look at the incredible impact of some of these programmes.

Akram (Crystal Palace)
Akram lives in Croydon and is combining studying for a finance degree with working with the Palace For Life Foundation, the charitable arm of Crystal Palace.

He has been a volunteer for the last two years and is now a qualified coach where he leads sessions with Get Involved, a programme that gives opportunities for young people and adults from the Asian and Muslim community to participate in football and increase cohesion with other communities through joint activities.

“I was Get Involved’s first participant. It all began with an after-school football club hosted by the Palace for Life Foundation at my secondary school. Hazmi, a coach and now my mentor, recognised my interest in football and approached me with the idea of working with the Asian community and possibly pursuing a career in coaching the sport in the future.

“They proposed an idea that appealed to me – to encourage the Asian community to get involved in football while also battling discrimination and identifying talent in the local area.

“I remember being the only person at the first session but word quickly spread, resulting in many people who were interested in being a part of this project.

“I began as a volunteer and have now become a coach working at community sessions, after-school clubs and player-development centres, as well as hosting tournaments and Iftar events at both the Crystal Palace stadium and Crystal Palace Academy. With the Get Involved project, we give children a chance to showcase their talent and help them improve their football abilities.

See the full breakdown by continent below.

As a child Andre Onana was everywhere but between the posts.

“Back in the days”, Onana recalled about playing near his home at a pitch known locally as Giuseppe Meazza, “it was really small, it was just for five, six, max eight people. It was different than Old Trafford one hundred per cent.”

The Manchester United goalkeeper, who was born and raised in Cameroon, admits he didn’t want to be a goalkeeper.

“We used to put the bad player in the goal so I was everywhere but not in the goal because I was considering myself a good player,” he said. “I thought I was good at that time. That’s why I didn’t want to be a goalkeeper.”

However, the kick-start of his career between the posts came when he fell in love with goalkeeping thanks to his brother who played the same position.

“My brother Cristian Onana, he was playing in Cameroon, and he was a goalkeeper so because of him I started to love that position and boom, everything changed,” Onana said.

Onana attributes his success to his family, friends and in being African, which he says with pride is “a big privilege”. But he admits that to get on the road to becoming the Man Utd No 1 he had to suffer.

“I left my country years ago,” he says. “I left everything behind me. My family, my friends. You have to sacrifice a lot.”

Onana’s interview underlines the message that in the Premier League greatness comes from everywhere. It comes as the Premier League’s No Room For Racism initiative reinforces that diversity on the pitch – with 123 different nations represented so far – has played such a pivotal role in making the competition what it is now.

Greatness really does come from everywhere.

In the 2023/24 Premier League season, 68 nationalities are represented across all 20 clubs, underscoring the expansive geographic diversity of the League and its players.

From 6 to 15 April, the Premier League is commemorating its No Room For Racism campaign having unveiled its three-year progress update to the No Room For Racism Action Plan.

The initiative addresses discrimination while championing equality, diversity, and inclusion as integral components of the action plan.

Since the formation of the Premier League in 1992, a total of 123 nationalities have featured in the League with Syria and Guatemala being the most recent additions. Brighton & Hove Albion’s Mahmoud Dahoud now represents Syria after playing for Germany and former Cardiff City player Nathaniel Mendez-Laing received a call-up for Guatemala in 2023.

Unsurprisingly, England tops the list of countries represented, with 1,683 players comprising 35 per cent of the 4,807 players who have played for a Premier League club since 1992.

Examining the player demographics across continents, Europe leads with the highest number of players, comprising 79.1 per cent (3,803), followed by Africa with 8.2 per cent (396). South America closely trails behind with 6.3 percent (304), while North and Central America have contributed 4.2 percent (201) of players. Oceania follows with 1.3 percent (60) of players, and Asia rounds off the list with 0.9 percent (43) of players.

The geographically smallest nation represented by any Premier League player is Gibraltar with an area of 6.7 km2.