Rugby Stars Fly the Flag for Pakistan and India
A total of thirteen British Asian rugby league and union players will be flying the flag for Pakistan and India in a series of rugby union test matches in South East Asia.
Rugby League star Ikram Butt together with fellow West Yorkshire-based players Rashid Mahmood (Earlsheaton RL), Amraz Hamid (Hunslet Warriors RL), Junaid Malik (Elland RL) and Rehan Mansoor (Old Crossleyans RU) join up with London-based Shahid Rafiq (Battersea Ironsides RU) on Friday 26th May to travel to Pakistan for an intensive week-long training camp.
Seven players will represent India in two games against Malaysia in Kuala Lumpur (5th June) and Thailand in Bangkok (7th June). Amarveer Singh, Simon Patel Knowles (both Newcastle Falcons), Tim Wilkes (Darlington Mowden Park RU), Francis Brown (Harlow RFC), Manmandir Samra (Moseley RU), Ajay Subherwal (Dungannon) and national captain Nasser Hussain of Tynedale RU make up the Indian contingent.
Pakistan will take on the Pacific islanders of Guam (7th June) and hosts Philippines (10th June) in a tri-nations tournament and they’ll be wearing shirts sponsored by Malik Finance.
All of the players are members of the rapidly growing British Asian Rugby Association, (BARA) established by Ikram Butt to encourage development and foster interest within the British Asian communities of both rugby league and rugby union. As part of the trip to Pakistan the players will visit local schools to conduct rugby training sessions with pupils.
Jerry Malik of Malik Finance commented: ”I am delighted that we can be associated with a successful organisation such as BARA. Their principles of dedication, hardwork & success are what we continually strive for.
“The opportunity to also be associated with the Pakistan rugby team is quite an honour and would not of happened without our close affinity with BARA’,” added Jerry.
The Pakistan shirt will also feature the distinctive BARA logo and that of the Youth Charter.
The Youth Charter is a UK registered charity and UN accredited non-governmental organisation. Launched in 1993 as part of the Manchester 2000 Olympic Bid and 2002 Commonwealth Games, the Youth Charter has campaigned and promoted the role and value of sport, arts and cultural activity in the lives of disaffected young people from disadvantaged communities nationally and internationally.
Geoff Thompson MBE, Executive Chairman of the Youth Charter, commented: “The forthcoming tours are part of the Youth Charter’s ‘Citizenship in Action’ programme and charts the ongoing and valuable work of BARA as it continues to improve the social and cultural relationships in communities globally and locally through rugby.”
Former Leeds, London, Hunslet, Featherstone, Huddersfield and Great Britain youth international Ikram Butt, BARA Director, explained: “To have the BARA & Youth Charter Logo on the Test jerseys is a tremendous boost to our partnership and signifies our strong relationship with the Pakistan Rugby Football Union.
“We are very grateful that Jerry Malik has generously sponsored BARA as the funds will allow us to assist in our long term aims of assisting the development of the game in South Asia which in turn will have a knock-on effect over here in the UK,” added Ikram.
BARA is an organisation which aims to provide positive role models, break down cultural & religious barriers, promote community integration, personal development, healthy living and encouraging participation in sport & physical activity especially in rugby.
Rugby in Pakistan dates back to 1926 when the Karachi Rugby club was formed. The Pakistan Rugby Union was established in 2000 and gained membership with the Asian Rugby Football Union in 2000.