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Derby founder of Punjab United honoured for ..

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5 months 1 week ago #3157 by ninja
ninja created the topic: Derby founder of Punjab United honoured for ..
Derby founder of Punjab United honoured for contribution to football

1966 was a great year for football. Not only did England win the World Cup but Punjab United was founded in Derby.

The club is still going strong more than half a century later, running six different teams, ranging from under 6s to sides playing in the veterans league.

It was started by Tarsem Singh Cheema and a handful of his football-loving friends.

Since those first games, hundreds, perhaps thousands, of people have played for Punjab United.

For decades, Tarsem has juggled driving a taxi with his devotion to the beautiful game. His dedication was last month recognised by at the British Ethnic Diversity Sports Awards, organised by Sporting Equals.

At an event hosted by Sir Lenny Henry at the Grosvenor House hotel in London, 70-year-old Tarsem was honoured with the British Army Unsung Hero Award.

Modestly, he said: "It takes 11 people to make a team, not one individual. The club has been going a long time and lots of people have been involved with the club and helped. It isn't just me. I don't take full credit."

Although his playing days are long over, he proudly watches many of the teams he helped found and helps put up the goals. Naturally, his greatest pleasure is to see his grandson playing for Punjab United under 9s.


It is the latest chapter in a story that goes back to 1964 when the 16-year-old first settled in the UK with his mother. It was a new adventure for the steelworker's son. Before long, Tarsem and him friends started to enjoy the national game of football.

As England won the world cup in 1966, Tarsem and friends founded Punjab United Football Club in Arboretum Park, Derby.

"It started out as a kickabout in Arboretum park with the Indian and Sikh community who lived in the area. I was never a very good footballer but I was a very good organiser and have been involved with the club ever since."

As other members of the community found out about the club and opportunity to play football, a full team was soon assembled, playing its first friendly in late 1966.

He said: "There were hard times when it was difficult to get a team together and when there were problems getting sponsorship but you get through."

Regular training continued and eventually the club started playing league games in 1970.

It was around this time that Tarsem started to collect sponsorship for the club. Punjab United's first sponsor being the Cambridge pub which offered a fiver - money that got the ball rolling, so to speak.

In 1973, Punjab United first started to compete in Asian tournaments, first playing in Coventry.

In 1979 Tarsem was elected chairman and also started a reserve team for Punjab united playing in 2 leagues with the Derby City league on Saturdays and Sundays.

By this time, the club had more than a hundred members aged between 16 and 31. Punjab United had become a community force to be reckoned with and Tarsem secured more sponsorship from local businesses to keep growing.

In 1985, Punjab United under 11s was founded, a team that may have been the first Asian youth team in the East Midlands.

The seniors moved up the tiers of local football, playing in the Central Midlands league and moving to the Shardlow St James' Ground.

As this was a new pitch, it needed cutting and marking for all home games.

Tarsem would do his Taxi job up to 11am, them go to the ground and get the pitch ready for the home fixture. After the game cleaning the changing rooms and locking up he would return to his job as a taxi driver.

Punjab United and six other clubs were founding members of the Khalsa Football Federation. Football was being played in summer tournaments but with no structure so the federation was formed to provide structure and governance.

Today, at the age of 70 Tarsem is the only remaining founder and the oldest figure in the Khalsa Football Federation.

And he still plays his part, helping organise tournaments, putting up nets, organising food and refreshment for players and spectators and even being the car park attendant and even picking up litter afterwards.

"I like doing volunteer work and I still love football. And I get it in the ear hole from my grandson if I don't show up to watch him play," said Tarsem.

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