Leeds lawyer Bilkis Mahmood has branched out from the world of law to become the UK’s second female Asian football agent.
Bilkis hopes to follow in the footsteps of Shehneela Ahmed who, in 2013, became the first female Asian football agent to be registered with the English FA. Like Shehneela, Bilkis will use her new role to encourage more British Asian players into the game, increasing diversity within the football profession.
While Asians currently make up around eight per cent of the British population, they are still hugely underrepresented as football players, with currently only one player of Asian descent playing in the Premier League, and a further two in the Championship and lower divisions.
This is despite Asians and other ethnic minorities making up 11 per cent of the crowd on average at Premier League matches.
Bilkis said: “If you look at figures you can see that the popularity of the game has never been higher amongst British Asians, with football challenging cricket in the hearts of ethnic minorities in Britain. There are many young Asians who aspire to be Premier League players.
Unfortunately this is not transferring onto the pitch, with the numbers of British Asians playing professional football astonishingly low. I hope that, as an agent, I can encourage and support more Asian people into football, and help promote greater diversity in the profession.”
In her role as an agent, she will aim to encourage under-represented groups to take an active interest in football, and would like to see more women, black, Asian and ethnic minorities entering managerial, coaching and media roles over the coming years.
Bilkis added: “I am certain that the British Asian community would welcome this opportunity, as generations have been lost as potential players, managers and coaches.
“As an agent, it is my hope to help redress the balance and contribute to greater representation of Asians in football and more diversity in the game as a result.”
As well as being Senior Partner at Blackstone Law, the firm she helped to set up five years ago, Bilkis has several years experience of setting up positive action schemes in the private sector and the local community.
She was recently awarded the Services to Law category at the British Muslim Awards, in recognition of her achievements.