Changing the face of Scottish football

With the Scotland team still dominated by white faces, FA looks to promote football within black and ethnic communities.

Nigel Quashie
The Scottish FA and national team coach Craig Levein are promoting football within all sections of society [GETTY]

Imagine the scene that with a minute to go of the scheduled ninety and Scotland require a goal to secure qualification for the 2022 World Cup. 

You switch on the radio and hear the following commentary “Ahmed and Singh combine well to release Kiwomya and his cross is headed in by Amadeusz. Tartan Army get your passports out, Qatar here we come!”
For many football supporters the above scenario is highly unlikely given that to date only three non white players have represented Scotland at full international level.

Andrew Watson was the first black player to receive his first cap for his country back in 1881. It took another 123 years for Nigel Quashie to become the second. Chris Iwelumo was the third four years later. Such low level of representation has more to do with population figures rather than racism.
However the appointment of an Equity Manager (and five officers, one being the actor Atta Yaqub) by the Scottish Football Association (SFA) in conjunction with equalities groups BEMIS, is aimed at ‘promoting’ and ‘developing’ football within Black and Ethnic communities across the country. Funding for the three year positions was acquired from the Scottish Government’s Cashback for Communities programme.
SFA tech director Mark Wotte is one who believes immigrant communities can provide vital source of football talent. 

European football teams are becoming increasingly multi-ethinic. At Euro 2010 Germany’s first 11 consisted of players of Turkish (Mesut Ozil), Ghanaian (Jerome Boateng) Polish (Lukas Podolski) and Tunisian (Sami Khedira) origins. Moreover both France and Wotte’s home country of Holland have had long traditions of calling up those whose backgrounds could be traced to former colonies.
Asian Football Awards 

There are signs youngsters from diverse backgrounds are beginning to make their mark in Scotland. One example is the story of Islam Feruz.

The young Somalian was due to be deported back to Africa before the intervention of the late Tommy Burns. He has since left Celtic and Scotland to sign for Chelsea. His agent Rui Alves stated at the time: “He is looking forward to starting his career with Chelsea, but he would love to thank Celtic for all they did for him and his parents, he is Scottish and will one day score goals for Scotland.” 

One player that has remained at the club is Mohammed Yaqub, who is thought to be of Iraqi extraction. Both have represented Scotland at under-17 level.

   Nigel Quashie (L) is only the second non-white player to start for Scotland [GALLO/GETTY]

In January earlier this year, the Asian Football Awards were held at Wembley and celebrated the contribution Asian communities were making not just on but also off the pitch. 

One winner of the night was Liverpool FC first team doctor, Zafar Iqbal, who after accepting his award said he was “just the son of a Pakistani bus driver from Rochdale.” Also present was Javed Khan the finance director of the Premier League. 

Scotland was represented on the evening by Partick Thistle youth player Aaron Singh Sekhon and the SPL finance administration manager, Priti Trivedi. Both no doubt disappointed to leave empty handed unlike many other Scots who have visited the home of football!

Scotland is home to an Asian community that is now in its fourth generation as well as to refugees and asylum seekers from all four corners of the globe and economic migrants from Eastern Europe.  
Much has been made of Craig Levein’s inclusion of several English born players into recent Scotland squads. 

This unique link up between BEMIS and the SFA will take time to unearth the next generation of players that can take Scotland to major international tournaments. 

However, there is no denying the potential talent on our doorstep. And with the right scouting, training and coaching, future managers could have the luxury of selecting future international stars much closer to home.

Source: Al Jazeera