A first-of-its-kind timeline and showcase of South Asian heritage female players in the modern English game has gone on display at the Wolves Museum.
The museum, which is located within Wolves’ Molineux Stadium, is hosting the exhibition in its reception area for the next week as part of the legacy of the club’s first-ever South Asian Heritage Month event which took place on Wednesday, co-hosted with the Punjabi Wolves.
It is the first time a museum has hosted a timeline and exhibition capturing the history of South Asian heritage female players, who have shattered the glass ceiling to blaze a trail across football in Britain.
One of the players featured in the timeline is international striker Bala Devi, who became the first Indian woman ever to sign a professional football contract overseas when she joined Glasgow Rangers in 2020.
Devi, who hails from Manipur in the northeastern India, spent last season at Odisha FC.
Odisha FC president Raj Athwal told Sky Sports News: “Bala Devi is an Indian football trailblazer. Everyone at Odisha FC and across India is proud of her achievements and thrilled to see her recognised for making history when she joined one of my former clubs Rangers.
“Congratulations to everyone involved in bringing this project to life and to Wolves for hosting it in the West Midlands during the 70th anniversary season of the club becoming English champions.
“It is truly wonderful to see this exhibition showcased in the museum of one of the Football League’s founding member clubs.”
Wolves host Brighton on Saturday and anyone attending the game or in the vicinity of the ground will have the opportunity to view the exhibition ahead of the match, as well as in the days that follow over the next week.
Sky Sports celebrated the anniversary of its partnership with the charity Sporting Equals earlier this year by creating a timeline documenting the journey of players from South Asian backgrounds that have broken through in the modern-day women’s game in leagues across Britain.
The showcase was launched at Stamford Bridge in March after a successful pilot in west London, before heading to Wembley Stadium for two Football and Faith events at the home of English football.
Four role model players from Britain’s South Asian community that are currently plying their trade in women’s league football are profiled alongside the ground-breaking timeline.
One of the players highlighted, Derby County’s Kira Rai, visited the exhibition when it was at Wembley, and said she hopes the timeline and showcase can capture the imagination and become a platform to improve diversity and representation in the women’s game.
“To feature alongside some fabulous South Asian women as part of the history of the English women’s game is a matter of huge pride for me, my family and my football club,” the Sikh-Punjabi attacker said.
“We know women’s football is not as diverse as it should be, and I want to play my part to help change that. I hope this inspires the next generation and gives talented girls who look like me the belief that they can also make it in the game.”
West Brom forward Mariam Mahmood, who features in the exhibition and famously scored five goals against Wolves earlier in her career in a development squad game, said it’s vitally important to capture the history of South Asian heritage players who have graced the English game.
“It’s an honour to feature in the timeline and to have my story showcased in this way,” she said.
“Education and bridging the gap in knowledge about South Asians in football remains a major issue. Our stories matter and I hope this raises positive awareness and encourages more children – particularly girls from South Asian backgrounds – to take up the game and enjoy playing football.”
Kandola joins Punjabi Wolves at Molineux for South Asian Heritage Month
Wolves central defender Kam Kandola joined the Punjabi Wolves in midweek for the ‘Stories to Tell’ event at Molineux, co-hosted with the club to close South Asian Heritage Month.
The free event, which was open to staff, supporters and friends, was attended by more than 100 guests including former Mayor of Wolverhampton Greg Brackenridge and chair of trustee at Wolves Foundation Kevin Rogers.
The evening highlighted just some of the achievements of Wolverhampton’s South Asian community, while providing an opportunity for guests to hear from a range of generations, people from different professions and sports, including those closer to home who continue to make an impact on and off the field.
There was also an opportunity to hear from players and parents of elite footballers from South Asian backgrounds during spotlight interviews hosted by the PFA’s Riz Rehman and Sky Sports News‘ Dev Trehan.
Gurpri Bains, Wolves’ equality, diversity and inclusion manager, said: “Our first ever event to celebrate South Asian Heritage Month was an overwhelming success and it was great to see so many people attend what was an inspirational evening.
“South Asia makes up 25 per cent of the world, and it was beautiful to see our event reflective of the large South Asian population across Wolverhampton.
“I would like to thank all members of the panel who gave up their time to talk about their personal stories, and we all appreciated the different ages, diversity and generational contributions in the stories that were shared by the guests.
“Being One Pack is not just a phrase at Wolves, and events like this prove that the club and the Wolverhampton community is one of the most diverse in the country. It was also great to see the academy, Foundation, chair of trustees and the football club all come together to make the event a great success.”
British South Asians in Football
For more stories, features and videos, visit our groundbreaking South Asians in Football page on skysports.com and South Asians in the Game blog and stay tuned to Sky Sports News and our Sky Sports digital platforms.