ASIAN STAR RETURNS FOR A FOURTH YEAR

The Chelsea FC Foundation's Asian Star is back for another year to provide ground-breaking opportunities for aspiring footballers from Asian communities.

Since its inauguration in 2009, the programme has already identified five potential stars of the future who have gone on to play for professional clubs' academies.

Previous winners of the competition were given the chance to trial for the Chelsea Academy but to ensure aspiring players get the best possible coaching, this year's initiative is offering a year-long placement on one of the Chelsea FC Foundation's Elite Training Centres.

'Asian Star is a fantastic initiative which is making a real difference to Asian participation in football,' said Florent Malouda. 'Aspiring footballers should have the same opportunities regardless of their background and this programme gives Asian footballers the chance to play and potentially be recognised as tomorrow's professional footballers.'

Asian Star 2012 will take place on Saturday 26 May at Chelsea's state-of-the-art training ground in Cobham for players in the Under-9 to Under-12 age groups. Applications for this year's tournament are now open, visit www.chelseafc.com/asianstar to enter.

Asian Star is the first scheme of its kind ever undertaken by a professional football club and is designed to give a much-needed boost to Asian participation at all levels of the game. Players are judged on a series of matches and tests specifically designed and used by the Chelsea Academy to examine speed, skill and ability. Chelsea will also be inviting managers, coaches and scouts from clubs at all levels of the game to identify talented youngsters and information will also be on hand for Asian players to find clubs in their area.

Sam Khan, a previous winner of the Under-9s category who has since signed a contract with Birmingham City, said: 'Asian Star is really important because it gives young players the chance to get themselves noticed. It was a perfect day, it was great and gave me one of the best experiences of my life. It helped me gain confidence because of the coaches' comments about me. That helped me shine more and I was spotted by Birmingham and given a trial and then my contract.'