Chris Ramsey

The Assistant Manager of
Tottenham Hotspur’s Academy
and Under-16 coach Chris
Ramsey and I were determined
to do something about a scandal
in football – the failure to
produce top level Asian
footballers. Ramsey offered a
trial to sixteen Under-16 Asian
boys, which took place on
December 7th 2009.
Following that trial Ramsey took
an extended look at Harmeed
Bharj, Shaber Gulmohammed,
Arjun Jung and Harjot Samra for
a few sessions in January and
February. He was impressed with
the boys, but only offered three
scholarships this year and our
boys were not offered them. Top
level professional football is a
harsh world. Bharj was advised
on what he needed to do and let
go early to pursue that. We are
working with him still.
The four Asian youngsters had
impressed greatly in getting so
far while competing against boys
that had enjoyed the benefit of
Spurs’ academy for years. The
first ever Empower-Sport Asian
Trials was therefore a great
success. It proved that good
coaching can work miracles and
Ramsey was not able to offer our boys
a scholarship – feeling it was best to
give them a chance elsewhere, but he
wanted them to prove him wrong. He
asked Empower-Sport to organise
another trial for them at another club,
as he believed . We arranged a trial for
Gulmohammed, Jung and Samra
rapidly. We did so with Wycombe
Wandereres, whose Head of Youth
Richard Dobson gave them a trial on
March 8th and 9th.
“It’s a credit to you guys,” Dobson told
the boys as he explained his decision.
“Some train but blend in background.
You stood out and got involved.”
They were training with the youth side
and second year apprentices. It was
hard for them, but all three did
themselves and us proud. Samra
impressed most on the first day, which
included short-match training, and
other training drills. Our boys played
well. Free-Way Coaching’s Directors
and coaches, Junior Lawrence, Adam
Donnelly and Kenney Cross gave them
an extra training session on Saturday
to prepare them for their opportunity.
It paid off, especially for Samra as the
coaches worked hard on his defensive
game with him before his trial with
Wycombe Wanderers
“I thought you two [Gulmohammed
and Jung] did bettter today,” Dobson
told them. “I’ll come to you [Samra]
later. The pace was a bit more. After
Spurs this was the second time you got
to play with players at this level. It’s
always difficult for players that have
not been in academy set up.”
He advised Jung to go and see youth
coaching can work miracles and
that my idea was a good one.
Further trials will take place to
ensure that players from
disadvantaged communities get
the chance that they deserve in
football with other clubs
He advised Jung to go and see youth
team games and explained that his
size was an issue even though the club
had no problems with smaller players.
That said he thought that Jung’s
physical stature could be a difficulty,
but that he was already in good hands.
He believed that Gulmohammed
needed to become more athletic and
that it was a step too far for him at this
stage, but both Jung and
Gulmohammed were told to keep in
touch for advice. Free-Way Coaching
and Empower-Sport will continue to
work with them and seek opportunities
for them.
Invited Back:
Our work had already been vindicated,
but Samra achieved more. “You are
slightly different,” Dobson told Samra.
“You’ve got something. You are willing
to pass the ball. Tactically, you’ve got
much to learn, but we owe it to you to
try to take it further.”
Samra was invited back to play with
the Under-16 team. He has an
excellent opportunity that we were
delighted to have provided for him.
Cross and Donnelly were present to
hear him receive the good news. Their
faces, beaming with pride, showed that
it had all been worthwhile and that this
was just the first project of many to
provide opportunities for underrepresented
and underprivileged
communities in football.
“It was a good experience,” said
Samra. “You’ve got good players here.”
Dobson explained Wycombe
Wanderers’ philosophy. “Other clubs
can buy finished product,”he said; “we
develop. It has been a pleasure to
have you around. It is a late stage to
come into it. It’s a credit to you
[Harjot] that you caught the eye.”
Empower-Sport and Free-Way
Coaching will continue to work closely
with Wycombe Wanderers FC on other
projects involving the Asian community
and other under-represented and
under-privileged communities for a
long time to come.