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No Kick Off

The half-told story of why British Asians make no goals
Corner Flags & Corner Shops
By Jas Bains By Saniev Johal
Victor Gollancz Price Not Mentioned

THE title of the book comes from the fact that a percentage of Asians in Britain are highly visible as owners of corner shops, and invisible as far as playing professional soccer is concerned. Question: Why can’t Indians play soccer? Answer: Because every time they get a corner they put a shop on it.

The book’s subtitled The Soccer Experience , but with over 4,000 full time Asian professional soccer players in the UK, the authors could find only one Asian playing professionally: Jas Jutla, who plays for the almost anonymous Greenock Morton Soccer Club.

So if Asians are not playing professional soccer, what’s this book about? Well.... It’s about the racism that’s stopped them but it’s also about any links between soccer and the British Asian community that the authors can find. So we have a tedious account of a study (yawn) entitled, "Asians can’t play soccer"; an account of an inept amateur Punjabi soccer team from Coventry combining their holiday in India with games against local college teams; and we even get an interview with an Asian policeman who does duty at a soccer ground!

Sadly, the authors relate everything to racism, ignoring the low priority given to sport by Asians in the UK, or that in their country of ancestral origin, soccer has the stigma of being "a game for servants and peons". They also ignore the role of Asian parents who’ve kept their children away from white society in case they were ‘corrupted’. Racism is rampant in soccer and the UK in general, but it’s not the whole story. Racism has not stopped Asian children from excelling in the British education system! Perhaps Asians don’t play soccer because they’re too busy getting educated! But as Asians move into professional employment, many of their children are beginning to excel in Soccer Development programmes run by top-class professional clubs. They will be the stars of the future, but their stories are ignored! For the authors it’s as if the ’90s have never happened!.

READ MORE IN:
AUTHORS: Bill Adams
PLACES: UK
SECTION: Books
SUBSECTION: Reviews
OUTLOOK: 17 May, 1999
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