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Stamford Bridge, the home of Chelsea Football Club, played host to the Zesh Rehman Foundation (ZRF) ‘Sidelined-2-Sidelines’ Educational Day’ supported by the Premier League on Monday 23rd February.

Former Fulham defender Zesh Rehman launched the ZRF in May 2010. Zesh became the first Asian to play in the English Premier League and in all three divisions of the Football League representing Fulham, QPR, Norwich, Brighton, Blackpool and Bradford City, whilst also appearing for England Under 17’s and Under 20’s.

Delivered in partnership with the Chelsea FC Foundation, the day-long Educational Day welcomed over 180 young people who aspire to a career within professional and community football.

Attendees travelled from across the country to engage in a number of bespoke educational workshops, delivered by Paul Nevin (Head of Coaching, Premier League), Jason Lee (Equalities Executive, Professional Footballers Association), as well as participating in a Q & A session with former Aston Villa manager John Gregory, Danny Cadarmateri (ex Everton Striker) and Dr Zafar Iqbal (former 1st Team Doctor at Liverpool and Tottenham Hotspur FC).

Representatives from a number of football clubs and governing bodies including West Ham United FC, Brentford FC, Burton Albion FC, Sheffield Wednesday FC, Bristol City FC, Portsmouth FC, Show Racism the Red Card and the FA were present on the day to show their support and pass on their experience and expertise to the young people in attendance.

Simon Morgan, Head of Community Development at the Premier League added: “The educational day at Stamford Bridge, run by the Zesh Rehman Foundation and supported by the Premier League, was an inspirational event. The high turnout was a testament to the fantastic work being carried out at a grassroots level and we hope that those who attended will continue to develop their skills with the ultimate goal of gaining qualifications or employment in the sports sector.”

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John Gregory said: “I’m very proud to have lent my time to support the work which Zesh does via his Foundation. Speaking to young people from the day and hearing about the journeys of the young people part of the Zesh Rehman Foundation was very inspiring and it’s great to see an initiative like this being supported by the Premier League and Chelsea Football Club. The ZRF may only be 5 years old but already has stamped its mark in the professional game and I’m sure many of the young people in attendance today will leave enthused and motivated to pursue a career within football.”

Riz Rehman, Director at the Zesh Rehman Foundation said: “Today further highlighted the impact which professional clubs, players and managers can have on young people. The support from the Premier League has enabled us to put on an event at Stamford Bridge and inspire young people from all over the country. We had people travel down from far as Sunderland, Bradford, Bristol, Bolton, Manchester and Birmingham which shows the need for the work we do. To have former Premier League managers and players lend their support and share their own stories was very inspiring and we will be looking to work even closer with the Premier League to put on more Educational Days.”

Efe Ezekiel, 24, who travelled down from Bristol said: “Being a female, I was keen to attend and enjoyed meeting like-minded people. Hearing Raya Ahmed’s coaching journey with the Zesh Rehman Foundation was very intriguing. It’s great to see a young Muslim girl wearing a Hijab and coaching at a professional club and I’ve asked the ZRF to bring their work to Bristol as it’s very inspiring. I leave today further motivated to pursue my dream and inspire other young girls.”

A full report from the ZRF Education Day at Stamford Bridge will follow shortly.

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