Former Bradford City Apprentice Inderjeet Aujla believes that hard-working philosophy will help Asian players make the grade in professional football.
The defensive midfielder helped Frickley Athletic progress in the FA Cup at Chorley on Saturday and is enjoying being back in the British game after a spell playing in Belgium.
The former Bantams youth team player’s grandparents came over from the Punjab many years ago and began life in England working in a foundry and a mill.
Aujla’s parents carry on that tradition in Bradford to this day, dad working manually and mum in a supermarket.
“I am a Bradford-born Asian,” Aujla told The Telegraph & Argus.
“My parents came to England from India in the 1950s. I have been brought up to work hard. My family were farmers in the Punjab and they have all worked hard throughout their lives.”
Asian players, and Indians in particular, are few and far between in British professional football but if ever there was a potential breeding ground for them to be integrated into the sport, then it is Bradford.
Aujla, now 24, said: “I went through the ranks at Bradford City. Quite a few Asian lads did. It was hard. Asian lads’ families like them to take up a job or career that is not as risky as football. One injury and you could be finished.”
“My grandparents knew nothing about football. Grandad and some of my uncles were wrestlers. We have a strong sporting background.”
“It was my Dad who was into his football and when he came over here in the 1950s, it gave him the opportunity to develop that interest and later on through me he has seen that interest develop even more.”
“I joined City at 12 and left school when I was 16. I still use their training ground now during the week and I am totally focused on my football.”
“I was named Young Player of the Year during my time at City, although I didn’t get a contract and moved on to Chester.”
“I had a spell at Hinckley too but it didn’t work out and I came back to Yorkshire. I had played for Guiseley beforehand but now I am here at Frickley.”
Since leaving Valley Parade, Aujla has made no secret of his desire to get back into the full-time game and has already played in Europe, spending two seasons with Royal Racing Montegnee in Belgium.
He explained: “I went to Belgium and played for Racing, a third division Club. I want to get back into the professional game but things are going well here at Frickley right now and I am enjoying it.”
“I am very versatile. I can play in defence or midfield and while it is true not many Asians in general play football, or even go along to watch it in Britain, slowly they are coming into the game more.”
“I remember Baichung Bhutia as the first Indian to play professionally in this country at Bury around ten years ago.”
“I was invited out to India to play but it was the wrong time for me. I was only 18. The infrastructure was not right for me out there. It was a third world country.”
“Indian players do have a lot of skill but they need to be a bit more physical. They need to develop their own physique and work on the physical side of the game.”
“In Belgium it was more technical, so you were on the ball more. In England it is more physical and it is all about second ball and second man. That’s what the Asian lads must remember.”