Football in Falkirk is truly a multicultural sport

SFA course at Falkirk Stadium with Atta Yaqub (front) Football Equity Officer Pic by Alan Murray
SFA course at Falkirk Stadium with Atta Yaqub (front) Football Equity Officer Pic by Alan Murray
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Celtic have 18 nationalities in their first-team squad - or 19 if you include their manager. Falkirk have five, the Shire two and Warriors have one.

Modern day football is a multicultural arena, even if the majority of each squad if made up of Scottish players,

SFA teaching course at Falkirk Stadium 'Pic by Alan Murray  10-11-13

SFA teaching course at Falkirk Stadium 'Pic by Alan Murray 10-11-13

But though Scotland has a population of 5.1m and more than 120,000 from an Asian background, it is a vastly under-represented community within Scottish football.

If 2.1 per cent of Scotland has this cultural background, you’d expect the national sport to show similar signs among the 489 players involved in the 14 senior matches. But there wasn’t anywhere near the nine or ten involved to fit in with the ratio.

But why? Many have tried and failed to find an answer, but Atta Yaqub, the Scottish Football Association’s equity officer with the Central Region is taking a pro-active approach.

He set-up and ran the Glasgow ANSAR football team - which initially served ethnic minority communities with sports opportunities - before broadening its horizons and landing his role with the SFA.

But now he organises similar for footballers in the Falkirk area every Sunday night.

“It’s really about providing opportunities and a chance for people to get involved in grassroots football.

“It’s primarily for Pakistani, Indian and Arabic communities in the central region and has grown from a few people on a five-a-side pitch to the main one at The Falkirk Stadium with 22 players.

“And it’s not necessarily for players - it’s for grassroots involvement. If someone’s a bit old for getting involved on the playing side we have coach education too, and it’s growing as time progresses.”

The next step could be forming a team, similar to the Ansar one in the southside of Glasgow, “it depends where they want it to go. For now we’re just building up the involvement and possibly moving to a midweek session depending on the demand.

“Under-representation is a frequent bug-bear but this is an opportunity that is open to people across these communities and we want to raise awareness of what’s available.”

To get involved in the Sunday night scheme, 6-7 p.m. contact the SFA Central region at Stirling University on 01786 467165.