The Professional Footballers’ Association (PFA) welcomed academy, scholars, and professional players to St Georges Park for a ‘Player Development Day’ as part of their Asian Inclusion Mentoring Scheme(AIMS).
Stags' academy players, McKeal Abdullah and Nadal Ahir represented the club on the day.
AIMS was created to enhance the experience of British Asian footballers on the elite pathway by creating a structured network of support that allows them to thrive.
Danny Batth (Sunderland), Neil Taylor (Middlesborough), Otis Khan (Leyton Orient) and Malvind Benning (Port Vale) are among the senior footballers mentoring scholars and emerging pros, with those players, in turn, sharing their academy experiences with their younger peers.
Following on from the previous AIMS ‘Player Development Day’ events during 2021, there has been an appetite from players and families on the programme to connect and network more regularly. These face-to-face events have proved a real highlight giving players the opportunity to connect with peers from different clubs, partake in a coaching session as well as network and learn from professional player
PFA’s Player Inclusion Executive Riz Rehman said: “The momentum behind the PFA’s 5-year strategy to increase Asian representation in the game is very strong and thanks must go to all the clubs who have fully supported and backed the scheme by connecting us with their players and families.
“Over the last 24 months we have laid some solid foundations upon which to build, and we will continue to work with our networks of clubs to provide additional wrap around support for players and families.
We’ve had unbelievable buy in from our nationwide network of clubs and this was demonstrated in the attendance on the day with many allowing their players and staff to miss weekend fixtures and training schedules to attend the ‘Player Development Day’.”
Over 90 players from academy level to professionals, were accompanied by parents, coaches, practitioners, club staff and stakeholders at St Georges Park. The full day included educational presentations, parent workshops and coaching sessions for the players led by England U17 Head Coach Tom Curtis.
The turnout illustrates the success of the scheme which has allowed players to connect, parents and practitioners to network and bring together communities that all have the aim to progress along the elite pathway.
The academy's head of operation's and player care, Neil Bainbridge, said: “We’re very proud as a club that we were able to have representation in this PFA scheme.
"McKeal Abdullah and Nadal Ahir represent the three values of our academy; respect, high standards and a positive attitude.
"We will continue to work closely with the PFA on this scheme and any further schemes to increase awareness and educate those within our academy."