Blog Post: Selina Kotecha

Selina is next up with her blog entry for our South Asian Heritage Month 2023 series!

Influencing inclusion from the sidelines 

Selina Kotecha - Chartered Business Psychologist & Middlesex FA IAG member

"Football was a big part of growing up in Punjabi household in the 90s. The days before satellite television, we would often listen to matches on the radio and see the goals later on MOTD;  my dad was a huge Chelsea fan and influenced our whole family to support Chelsea FC.

Selina I grew up in Southall and the park would be packed with youngsters playing football wearing the shirts of their favourite teams, debating and teasing each other about who’s team is better. Mostly the teams they were debating were miles away but they still identified with them and followed them ardently. 

I didn’t play football but I watched it with my brothers and learnt all the rules by asking lots of questions. It was unusual for a girl from my background to know so much about football but I really enjoyed being part of it all. This meant I could join the debates, even if my opinion wasn't welcome I would often impress others with how much I knew (usually this was explaining the offside rule). When I was nine years old, my dad passed away but my link to football had already been made and my uncle would take me and my brothers to Stamford Bridge to watch matches. The feeling of being in a stadium surrounded by people passionate about the same team as you is an amazing. We also used to go and watch Chelsea FC train when the training ground used to be in Middlesex! My favourite player was Gianfranco Zola and I was lucky enough to meet him a couple of times.  

I often think about why I was so interested in football, I think it was the sense of being part of something exciting but also there were so many things that football taught me for example learning about different cities within England and internationally too. During euros and world cups learning about the host nations whose culture would be reflected in the crowd through their clothing, chanting and behaviour. Now that I have a family of my own, football has definitely brought us together, I watch football with my sons and have taken them to matches including the women’s FA cup final at Wembley. 

Football is at its best when it brings people together - we know that there is more work to do to make football more inclusive for everyone and I am proud that I can use my skills as a psychologist and my lived experience as a South Asian female to be part of the IAG for Middlesex FA. We have been doing some exciting work to ensure that Middlesex is representative of the local community, and this goes beyond optics focusing on what inclusion feels like for underrepresented communities. I believe that the positive effects of representation means nothing unless you are creating opportunities for others too and I am really happy to see the progress of South Asian females in the game today, role models like Manisha Tailor who are influencing representation from within. Please continue to follow and support us, together we can make a difference."