Bolton sports fan wins at Asian Football Awards
11:31am Friday 18th October 2013 in News
A SPORTS fan who has spent most of his life breaking down ethnic barriers to football has been honoured at a star-studded event at Wembley Stadium.
In the presence of footballing stars including Gary Lineker, former Sharples School pupil Irfan Kawri, was presented with the Inspiration award at the second Asian Football Awards.
The 32-year-old, who also attended Gaskell Primary School, is a first-team scout for Wigan Athletic and a PE teacher in Chorlton, Manchester. Mr Kawri, who still lives in Bolton with wife Faatima and twins Uma and Aishah, believes his family and parents helped him win the award on his momentous night.
He said: “I am so privileged and honoured because I have worked hard to break down barriers.
“But none of this would have been possible without the sacrifices made by my father Ishmael and mum Zubeda, and by my wife and the children.”
Mr Kawri was at Rochdale FC as a youth player before having trials with Bradford FC, who were keen to sign him.
But his parents had other ideas.
He said: “Mum and dad did not think that becoming a footballer was a long-term career option and instead they encouraged me to go down the route of education.”
After a spell with Leigh RMI as a semi-professional, Mr Kawri moved back to Rochdale to help coach their players.
He also earned international stripes with Zambia at under-20 level and completed a degree in sport and exercise science at the University of Bolton.
In an effort to build up his skills at football he has also worked with Barnsley’s first team, along with boasting experience at Notts County.
Mr Kawri added: “I was honoured because I am still the first South Asian person at a top English club at Wigan Athletic.
“I do the role of both first-team scout and opposition assessor for the club.”
He is in the process of completing his PFA coaching course and believes nothing should stand in the way of Asian youngsters succeeding in places like Bolton.
Mr Kawri added: “Instead of playing in their own leagues what I want to see is more Asian youngsters integrating with the white British young-sters. To break down barriers it takes social contact.”
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