Football Development >
Semi Professional Football
London APSA, Kingsbury London TIGERS, and SPORTING BENGAL are just a few of the new emerging semi-professional clubs providing an essential pathway for the positive future of our game.
Over the past few years the key issue at the forefront of the Asian Football debate has been the lack of professional players and teams. In the following case study we look at the development of an Asian football team that has achieved semi-professional status and become a forerunner for a new generation of Asian teams who want to establish themselves as semi-professional clubs.
- Name: London APSA FC
- Location: East London
- Home Ground: Terence Macmillan Stadium – Newham
Initially established in 1993, London APSA are one of the first teams in the UK to gain semi-professional status. A group of friends at Newham’s East Ham College merged with a Youth Team known as the Young Muslims who were no longer eligible to play under 16s football. Brought together by the Club Chairman, Zulfi Ali, London APSA previously known as Ahle Sunnah, were crowned the first ever Asian League Champions.
The London ASPA FC’s mission was to create an Asian football team, which would be able to compete in mainstream affiliated football and be the standard bearer for the Asian Football community. This led them on a long road towards creating a semi-professional club, with many barriers and challenges on the way. APSA FC persevered with its mission whilst tackling numerous problems. One of the more difficult obstacles was gaining access to funding and facilities in East London where there were no established links to mainstream provision. This is one of the key challenges of developing a semi-professional team from scratch.
However, with the help of Aveley FC, and financial backing of the fastest growing Asian franchise business, Kebabish, London APSA Projects team’s persistency and hard work finally paid dividends as they entered the semi-professional Westview Essex Senior League in August 2003. The first season was a steep learning curve for APSA as they held onto mid-table obscurity. In the off-season, APSA entered the UK Asian Championships and won the title at Stamford Bridge in a tensely fought encounter against friends and rivals London Tigers. Since then, London APSA have become an established semi-professional side and achieved their intention of becoming a standard bearer for the Asian Football community.
APSA now hope to continue to build on these foundations in semi-pro football and develop an ASPA FC youth football development programme. London APSA has recently moved first team games to Terence Macmillan Stadium – Newham.
Over the years there has been a great amount of investment and hard work in Asian football at the adult level and it’s essential that this is done at a youth level too. We need to focus on Youth football so we can develop Asian talent from an early age.
Zulfi Ali, London APSA Chairman
London APSA currently have two junior teams at under-15 and under-16, playing affiliated football and providing a pathway for the younger players to professional football. In 2005 London APSA, along with Sporting Bengal, were the first Asian teams involved in the FA Cup. The example set by clubs like London APSA is paving the way for the next generation of professional players, coaches and staff.
For more information regarding London APSA FC go to www.londonapsa.co.uk