Birmingham City academy prospect Layla Banaras said the dream remained to play for the Blues and England.
Banaras was described as an exceptional youngster by former Birmingham Women manager Carla Ward, and last season she produced a nutrition guide and meal planner to better prepare Muslim athletes for fasting during Ramadan.
The 15-year-old ball defender, whose mother is English and father is Pakistani, started playing at Solihull Moors before having the opportunity to train with Birmingham.
Opening up on his journey through the game in an FA video released to coincide with South Asian Heritage Month, Banaras said: “The Blues do coaching sessions every Friday, and two weeks later they asked me if I wanted to sign.
“At first. I said I would think about it. I took a few steps and I went back and I thought no, I will sign. [Looking back] I could not believe it. This is the team my whole family supports, and like, they wanted to sign me!
“It has been my dream since I was little to play for England and Birmingham first team. I just want to make that dream come true.”
Banaras is one of many ethnically diverse actors from different age groups at Birmingham Women’s Academy who take a proactive approach to identifying female talent in the Midlands.
“We will be doing open trials every year in June where we post ads on social media and then girls and parents sign up,” academy director Paul Cowie said.
“It’s a huge commitment [at academy level] to be honest. The girls train, especially the younger ones, twice a week. Parents are an integral part of the girls’ journey. And I probably don’t think girls realize that until they get older. “
Southgate: Banaras makes South Asian girls believe
England manager Gareth Southgate has said rising stars like Banaras will give other South Asian girls the belief that they too can build careers in women’s football.
“Revolutionary players are so important,” said the England manager.
“When one or two players start to walk into Premier League clubs and the WSL and put on an English shirt, then again that opens up the possibility.
“The game is growing, and now we have Asian girls who are on this path. [that sends out a message to] young Asian girls watching, going to sit and think, OK, why not me? “
Mishra: The whole community is proud of Jhamat
One player Banaras can learn from is England junior international Simran Jhamat, who Sky Sports News exclusively revealed is making a historic move to Bristol City Women after choosing to leave Lewes FC at the end of his contract. .
Charlton Women’s assistant Riteesh Mishra, who is South Asia’s longest-serving British coach in women’s football, said Sikh-Punjabi woman Jhamat is a standard bearer for South Asians in the game.
“I’m happy for her and proud of her that she also stayed in this division,” Mishra said. Sky Sports News.
“The Championship is a really tough division and she has great potential and pedigree, and someone I spoke to in the offseason.
“I am really proud of her and her family that she has found a good club where she can continue her development. Someone like her is extremely important in women’s football as she is a standard bearer for the South. Asians who are women.
“Even on our open house [at The Valley], I got to see families and girls from the South Asian community.
“If they can see players like Simran playing at that high level, it gives young girls the belief that their dreams are achievable, and in five or six years they could be that Simran, and they could be the next one for. take this step in a professional club.
“She should be proud and as a person of the same background and culture [I can say that] we are all proud of her. “
British South Asians in football
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