By Zohaib Rashid
Michael Chopra was crowned Player of the Year at the inaugural Asian Football Awards at Wembley Stadium last night.
The Ipswich Town striker picked up his award in front of a sold-out crowd which included a number of individuals and organisations from the Asian community who have are making a mark in football. Chopra beat Barnet defender Anwar Uddin to the top prize. There were a number of other winners with Football League links.
Sheffield Wednesday defender Danny Batth, on-loan from Wolverhampton Wanderers, was named as the winner of the Young Player of the Year award by the PFA's Simone Pound and Pakistan international footballer Kashif Siddiqi. Batth was not able to pick up the award in person as he was busy helping The Owls complete 3-1 victory away to League One strugglers Scunthorpe United.
Watford commercial manager Raj Atwal picked up the award for Football behind the scenes (administration) while Manish Bhasin, presenter of the BBC's Football League Show, took home the Football Media Award.
The AFA were launched to recognise the contribution to both the professional game and grassroots initiatives by individuals and groups across the UK with South Asian heritage. The FA and Kick It Out along with charity Sporting Equals were amongst the supporters of the initiative.
FA chairman David Bernstein, who spoke to kick start the awards, said: "I'm absolutely delighted to welcome the Asian Football Awards and extended guests to Wembley Stadium. I can't think of a better back drop to these inaugural awards than Wembley. Tonight is an important to showcase role models within the Asian football community who can inspire younger generations."
Kashif Siddiqi, a former apprentice at Boston United before embarking a career in America, said: "Tonight was a great example of the massive strides that the Asian community have made in football. Though there is a lot of work to do, the awards should serve as inspiration for more Asians to make their mark in football, both on and off the playing field."
To find out more about the Asian Football Awards, visit www.asianfootballawards.co.uk.