Call for community action gets Zesh's vote
PUBLISHED: 12:44 23 April 2008 | UPDATED: 13:14 24 August 2010
GERARD FARRELL / DZ PICS
By Ben Kosky QPR S Zesh Rehman has backed the Times campaign for Londoners to Get out and VOTE in the capital s elections next week. The Rangers defender is one of just four British Asian footballers plying their trade in the professional game and is a
By Ben Kosky
QPR'S Zesh Rehman has backed the Times campaign for Londoners to 'Get out and VOTE' in the capital's elections next week.
The Rangers defender is one of just four British Asian footballers plying their trade in the professional game and is a leading supporter of anti-racism programmes run by the FA and PFA.
Rehman told the Times: "Football is the perfect vehicle to unite communities, to help bridge the gap between communities and create more harmony.
"If you don't go out and use your vote, you could be helping to cause distress for the whole community. I believe it's important for everyone to vote."
Rehman, who grew up in Birmingham but plays international football for his parents' native country, Pakistan, has recently set up a website to provide support and advice for youngsters trying to forge a career in the sport.
Asked why so few Asians have broken into the professional ranks to date, the Rangers centre-back observed: "I think we're at the stage where black players were in the 70s, but there are different stereotypes to deal with now.
"There are pre-conceived ideas that maybe they're scared of the weather, or they have the wrong diet and aren't strong enough - and if those keep being repeated then they're less likely to get a fair start in the game.
"There aren't enough role models and, if you're a young lad growing up, you need to see those. People will ask you 'who do you want to be like?' and there aren't many answers to give.
"As one of only four Asian footballers in this country, I see it as my responsibility to try and give something back and make a difference - not just to Asian youngsters but everyone."
Along with QPR team-mate Damien Delaney, Rehman recently attended the launch of a video for the Show Racism the Red Card campaign at Westminster Academy.
The event was organised by Rangers' Football in the Community department and was also attended by former Rs striker Leroy Rosenior and ex-Wimbledon and Sheffield United boss Dave Bassett.
You can visit Rehman's website and read his blog at www.zeshrehman.com