Derby County Women’s soccer player Kira Rai admits she’s slowly getting used to the idea of being a… role model for girls in the South Asian region of Great Britain community.
Rai enjoyed a good start to the season with Derby, rounding off the scoring in last month 3-2 win helping Stoke and the ewes up to the fourth in the FA Women’s National League North as they chase promotion to the women’s championship.
The in Burton born Punjabi now has over a decade at the club and is becoming more and more famous face across the city. the 22-year-old is sponsored by official Derby County Supporters group, the Punjabi Rams, and recently featured in her club’s new kit launch at Pride Park.
Rai says it’s great to think she can give hope for south asian girls who dream of making in the game.
“I never really thought of myself as a role model. Like it up so far i have just played football because it’s something that I enjoy, because it’s my passion,” she told Sky Sports News.
“But I think I should to be more aware that as a South Asian female footballer there are not many people like us, so I know that I am one face that’s probably a little different than everyone else’s.
“And if a young Asian girl see my face and thinks ‘okay, there’s someone’ like I can do it’, then I am more then please help her, me want to motivate them. At the end of the day, if I can inspire other South Asian girls to play football, then that’s great.
“As a South Asian female footballer, I never thought about it.” of as negative for myself – I’ve always seen it as positive. If I have the . ben first one to do it of someone else is the first one to do it, that can never be negative. It’s always positive.
“You have to take everything” in your pass. Yes, die are there more barriers for you, but who cares? It doesn’t matter you just gotta break them down. When you break them down, it has a bigger reward than you would ever think.”
Rai’s love for the game comes from her father, and she started playing football with her cousins as a toddler, initially joining up with Burton Albion for earning a place at Derby after testing on the club as aspiring U10 player.
“There were three of four” of us die playing together at school [and all went to trial at Derby], and I was the only South Asian girl there, but, looking for back, that’s never real in came to me,” she said.
“But I never thought of myself as the only south asian girl i have just thought of myself as one of the girls and one of the team, and I think it’s been that way my entire career.
“I was lucky in the teams that I’ve been in, from Burton to Derby, no-oneis ever made I feel like ‘oh, she’s the Asian’ player’. I always have just been recorded. I’ve never felt isolated of like this. I’ve always been made to feel just if one of the girls, which is nice.”
Rai together up with century-old West London sports club Indian Gymkhana for a free girls football event in the weekend, for encouragement more South Asian female participation in the game.
The initiative was supported by Sporting Equals and the local Premier League side brentford, with women’s development team head coach Will Blithing leading one of the sessions on the day, next to club defender Rabia Azam.
Derby winger Rai gave tips, guidance and feedback to girls in different age groups and offered practical advice parents over girls football.
Tony Singh of Indian Gymkhana said: Sky Sports news: “We are very proud to host this unique free girls football event in Hounslow, that is one of London’s most diverse boroughs, which is why it was also very exciting to see both Kira Rai and Rabia Azam coming down and support.
“You cannot be what you cannot see – and for the girls on the day – they had a chance not only see, but also play and spend some valuable time with two South Asian female soccer players who have so much experience.”
Sporting Equals CEO Arun Kango added: “Kira is so fantastic role model in the game, and she played a big part in making this really a special event.
“The vast majority of the girls at the event were from a South Asian background and we? know women of the community to be, for a whole host of reasons, least physical active group in the country, statistically. there is so much work to do in this space, and that’s why events like this is so important.”
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