A teenage footballer is hoping to inspire future generations of girls from the Asian community to take up the sport.

Alayana Ahmed featured in the regional under 15s schools girls football championships representing Chorley.

Her school Holy Cross Catholic High School were crowned winners three years in a row for Chorley District Schools. 

Alayana said: “Compared to several years ago there are many girls playing competitive football now; for the past three years or so an academy structure has developed. 

Alayana, 15, said she enjoys football because of the fitness, competitive nature, and team spirit. 

She has played at county level in Lancashire and league level with AFC Bolton. 

She said: “This requires considerable commitment in respect of time for training and playing in around 20 plus matches a season. My teammates are generally supportive.”

The lack of diversity in women’s football was highlighted during the ongoing Women's European Championships which are taking place this month.

An investigation looked into a lack of representation in the England women's team, which only has three non-white players in its squad for the tournament; Jess Carter, Nikita Parris and Demi Stokes, with only Carter having had some game time so far.

Lancashire Telegraph:

Former Lionesses defender Anita Asante has written about her hopes this will change in the coming years.

Alayana said she does think the pathway to academy teams is currently blocked for Asian girls and said it was a shame clubs such as Blackburn Rovers have not developed Asian footballers like herself.

She said: “For example, in Blackburn Rovers' under 16 team there are no Asian Girls at this level, even though the town of Blackburn has a large Asian population.

“Diversity is therefore lacking and teams effectively cannot truly represent everyone in the community.”

Alayana said there may be pressures on some girls to stop playing at certain ages too.

“I do not know why some Asian female footballers may stop playing at 15 or 16 but maybe it is to do with a lack of parental support, or studies become more priority than sports at that age.”

A keen athlete, when she was 10, Alayana was ranked fourth by UK Athletics for the 150 metres and 11th for the 75 metres in the U11s category.

During the 2016/2017 season, Alayana has represented Lancashire County and has won three gold medals, two silver and three bronze.

Shabaz Ahmed, Alayana’s father said: “It was a tremendous achievement for all the girls and coaches who have beaten teams from Blackburn and Darwen and South Ribble to get to the finals against a very strong team.

“I am proud of Alayana’s achievements in being the cheerleader and role model for other Asian girls in elite football and hopefully other girls will be encouraged to take up football as a hobby or as a competitive career.”