Punjabi stopper Luthra makes Championship history | ‘Magnificent news’


England youth international Rohan Luthra’s historic appearance for Cardiff in Saturday’s game away at Preston North End has been described as “magnificent news”.

The 6ft 5in Punjabi stopper came off the bench in added time for his senior debut in English football, becoming the first goalkeeper to come out of Britain’s South Asian community ever to play in the Sky Bet Championship.

With Cardiff trailing in added time, Luthra replaced forward Mark Harris after goalkeeper Jak Alnwick was given his marching orders for taking out Tom Cannon when trying to make a clearance.

Luthra, 20, has been stepping up his return from injury and was only on the bench at Deepdale because Cardiff’s other goalkeeper Ryan Allsop was serving a one-match suspension after he was sent off in the win against Bristol City last week.

Goals from Cannon and Ched Evans earned Preston a 2-0 win to keep their slim play-off hopes alive.

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Highlights of the Sky Bet Championship match between Preston North End and Cardiff City.

Cardiff manager Sabri Lamouchi said after the game: “It’s unbelievable, two games in a row, two red cards for the goalkeeper.”

Batt: Luthra debut is ‘magnificent news’

In the summer of 2021, Sky Sports News exclusively revealed Luthra was leaving Crystal Palace after more than a decade at the south London club, before breaking the news that he was set to join Cardiff City.

More from South Asians In Football

West Londoner Luthra, who is the first British South Asian ever to sign a Premier League deal as a goalkeeper, is a former Whitgift School pupil and played alongside England internationals Bukayo Saka and Callum Hudson-Odoi at junior level before making his debut in goal for Crystal Palace’s U-18s, aged just 15.

“This is another piece of magnificent news for British South Asians in football in 2023,” Jas Batt, England technical talent coach, told Sky Sports News.

“They will be celebrating this one from Wales to west London and all the way to the Wagah border, and beyond!

“Rohan is someone everyone from a South Asian background can be proud of. He’s a multi-talented sportsman from a very good family, who has been an elite-potential talent for a long time.

“I’m sure I can speak on behalf of everybody across the community when I say that we are all very proud of him.”

A spokesperson for official Three Lions supporters’ club Apna England told Sky Sports News: “This is a moment for both the football family and the wider South Asian community, in England and beyond, to rejoice.

“Everyone is desperate to see better representation across the ‘beautiful game’ and Rohan making history will give a lot of people from different backgrounds plenty of hope for the future.

“Rohan has represented his country with distinction at junior level and as an official England fans’ group we’d like to offer our support and heartiest congratulations to Rohan, his family and everyone associated with Cardiff City Football Club.”

Sky Sports News broke the news that Bhupinder Singh Gill was making history in Southampton’s game with Nottingham Forest at the beginning of the year, becoming the first Sikh to act as an assistant referee in the Premier League.

Four days later, British-Pakistani wonderkid Layla Banaras shattered a glass ceiling when she became the first South Asian heritage woman to turn out for Birmingham City in the professional era.

East Londoner Zahmena Malik has also had a good start to 2023, grabbing a memorable assist on her Pakistan Women debut in a historic match against Comoros in Saudi Arabia. London Seaward attacking midfielder Malik also netted in a 4-0 win for her club against Chesham United last month.

Manchester United youngster Safia Middleton Patel has already enjoyed an unforgettable year. The 18-year-old goalkeeper signed her first contract in professional football, before joining Coventry United on loan ahead of making her full international debut and keeping a clean sheet for Wales against the Philippines.

At the turn of this month, Sky Sports News exclusively revealed West Ham academy graduate Anwar Uddin is set to leave his role with the Football Supporters’ Association to lead the FA’s efforts to make football for all.

How Sky is trying to make change

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Sky Sports announced a partnership with Sporting Equals to support the charity’s ambition of inspiring more opportunities for British South Asians in football.

The under-representation of British South Asians in the game has been described by Kick It Out chair Sanjay Bhandari as “the single-largest statistical anomaly in English football”.

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Sheffield United’s Courtney Sweetman-Kirk calls for urgent action to address the lack of diversity within the women’s game.

Ethnic diversity at the elite end of the women’s game, meanwhile, was brought sharply into focus during last summer’s Women’s Euros, with England fielding an all-white starting XI in all six of their matches at the tournament.

Sky Sports recognised and began taking steps to address the lack of diversity in the women’s game back in 2020 as part of its £30m commitment to tackle systemic racism and make a difference in communities across the UK.

Sky Sports has worked with dozens of current and former players from diverse ethnic backgrounds, and has tried to give them a platform to share their stories to try and capture the imagination to inspire the next generation of female footballers.

Talent has been identified and signposted directly to the Football Association and clubs as part of Sky Sports’ unprecedented commitment to British South Asians in Football, which has also seen us devote a section of our website to raising awareness about South Asians in The Game, and create a dedicated rolling blog.

A number of elite and elite-potential female players and their families have also been supported with mentoring and access to off-field developmental opportunities.

Sky Sports also partnered with the country’s largest sports race equality charity, Sporting Equals, which has seen us support participation across the country, including devising the ‘Seeing Is Believing’ event for century-old west London sports club Gymkhana.

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.

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