Liverpool Starlet Yan Dhanda Wins Up and Comer Gong at Asian Football Awards

Christopher Atkins@@chris_elasticoContributor IOctober 10, 2013

LONDON, ENGLAND - OCTOBER 8:   Up & Coming Award winner Yan Dhanda poses during the Second Annual Asian Football Awards at Wembley Stadium on October 8, 2013 in London, England.  (Photo by Jan Kruger/Getty Images for Asian Football Awards)
Jan Kruger/Getty Images

Liverpool youngster Yan Dhanda won the Up and Coming Player prize at the 2013 Asian Football Awards at Wembley on Wednesday evening, continuing a fine year for the youngster in which he moved from West Brom to the North West.

Per the Daily Star's Gary Jones, Dhanda beat off competition from Brighton's Dylan Lall and Samir Nabi of West Brom to claim the prize at the FA-backed event.

The 14-year-old attacking midfielder is highly rated among England's youth setup, and the hope is that he will develop to become one of British football's first home-grown Asian stars.

Cardiff's Kim Bo-Kyung took home the coveted South-East Asian Player of the Year prize ahead of Manchester United's Shinji Kagawa, despite neither player hailing from the South-East Asian region.

Other big names among the awards included Swansea City and Wales defender Neil Taylor, who won the Player of the Year award, and Tottenham doctor Shabaaz Mughal, who helped Fabrice Muamba following his heart attack in an FA Cup match at White Hart Lane last year.

LONDON, ENGLAND - JULY 16:   Neil Taylor of Team GB Men's Football answers questions from the media during the Team GB Football press conference at Team GB House on July 16, 2012 in London, England.  (Photo by Jan Kruger/Getty Images)
Jan Kruger/Getty Images

Taylor, whose mother is Indian, finished ahead of Michael Chopra of Blackpool and Wolves defender Danny Batth in the voting for the event's top prize.

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However, Dhanda's success, in particular, raises a couple of interesting debating points, both concerning the lack of British-Asian players and also current EPPP (Elite Player Performance Plan) regulation.

The lack of Asian players has been an area the FA has worked on for some time, attempting to change attitudes within the community to see football as an acceptable activity and career path.

Zesh Rehman (r) has been a major figure in the British-Asian football community
Zesh Rehman (r) has been a major figure in the British-Asian football communityJulian Finney/Getty Images

Besides changing parental attitudes, Kevin Coleman, the FA inclusion projects co-ordinator, believes more Asian coaches are needed to help youngsters emerge from the sizeable Asian communities in Britain.

Coleman told Sky Sports this week:

Asian coaches come from Asian communities and live in Asian areas. 

So if you have more Asian coaches they're more likely to bring more Asian kids and families from their local areas into football.

If those coaches are licensed and linked to county FAs they may be linked to professional clubs, academies, centres of excellence. So those kids have then got an exit route if they are talented.

The hope would also be that the achievements of people like Taylor and Dhanda, should the latter make the Premier League, would help inspire a younger generation to take up the sport and attempt to follow their idols.

Dhanda's move to Liverpool, though, is not seen as a positive development by everyone within the game.

As ESPNFC's David Instone wrote this week, the EPPP regulation introduced last year saw West Brom lose Dhanda and academy striker Izzy Brown to bigger clubs this summer for less compensation than they would have received under the old system.

Instone reports that the losses prompted West Brom chairman Jeremy Peace to suggest that it was not worthwhile running an academy anymore—a development which would be worrying for the English game.

There is a major debate to be had as to whether allowing big clubs to harvest talent is the best way to proceed, but it is clear that Dhanda is regarded as a major prospect for the future and has a great platform from which to develop further at Anfield.

If his development can help English football bring the Asian community into the game, it can only be a good thing for football in the British Isles.

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