Breakthrough Season for British South Asian Football Players
The 2022/23 football season has been a remarkable one for British South Asians in the sport, with players from the community making their mark across various levels and divisions.
In the women’s football pyramid, British South Asians showcased their talent throughout the season. Safia Middleton-Patel, an 18-year-old Manchester United player, had a dream campaign. She signed her first professional contract as a footballer and made her senior international debut for Wales, keeping a clean sheet. Middleton-Patel also had loan spells at Coventry United and Blackburn Rovers, playing in the FA Women’s Championship, Sky sports reported.
Defender Asmita Ale, 22, had a solid season with 17 appearances for Spurs in the Women’s Super League. She also represented England U23s and achieved clean sheets against Italy and Belgium. Easah Suliman, former England youth captain, featured in 16 games for UD Vilafranquense on loan from Vitoria Guimaraes in Portugal. He received his first call-up to the Pakistan national team and will compete in the South Asian Football Federation Championship.
Danny Batth, a key player for Sunderland, made 40 league appearances and captained the team in their run to the Championship play-offs. He was awarded the Supporters’ Player of the Year. Mal Benning played a significant role for Port Vale, featuring in 39 league matches and scoring a goal against Ipswich Town. Otis Khan helped Grimsby to a top-half finish in League Two, with 31 league appearances and two goals in the FA Cup quarter-finals. Hamza Choudhury, the British-Bangladeshi midfielder, had a successful loan spell at Watford, making 36 league appearances. His contract with Leicester City was extended for another year.
Millie Chandarana, who earned her first professional contract at Blackburn Rovers, appeared in 20 of the club’s 22 FA Women’s Championship games. Yan Dhanda had a successful debut season in Scotland with Ross County, scoring six goals and providing 10 assists to help his team retain their cinch Premiership status. Mariam Mahmood emerged as the top goalscorer for West Bromwich Albion, scoring in seven consecutive games. Kira Rai had a standout season for Derby County, contributing five league goals and multiple assists.
Rohan Luthra, the Cardiff goalkeeper, made history by becoming the first goalkeeper from Britain’s South Asian community to play in the Sky Bet Championship. Sai Sachdev made his senior debut for Sheffield United, and Aaron Drewe featured in seven league games for QPR. Layla Banaras became the first South Asian heritage player to play for Birmingham City Women.
Young talents such as Ronan Maher, Arjan Raikhy, and Zidane Iqbal also impressed during the season. Aqsa Mushtaq returned to England to play for Lewes in the FA Women’s Championship, and Simran Jhamat had 24 appearances for Coventry United.
Dilan Markanday played in the Championship for Blackburn Rovers, scoring twice in the Carabao Cup before a loan spell at Aberdeen. Dillon De Silva impressed in 21 matches for Torquay United on loan from QPR, while Kiban Rai made four senior appearances for Newport County.
Nadia Khan of Doncaster Rovers Belles made history as the first Pakistani woman to score four goals in an international match. Zahmena Malik assisted the winning goal on her international debut and later scored Pakistan’s first goal in women’s Olympic qualifying history.
Adil Nabi is currently playing for Athens Kallithea in Greece, with 13 appearances so far this season.
The breakthrough season for British South Asian football players demonstrates their growing influence .