Swansea City footballer Yan Dhanda is proud of his Indian roots and is much excited to become one of the first players of Indian ethnicity to thrive in English football. "I'm super proud to be where I'm from and where my family originate from and I think I'd be stupid not to be. I'd never hide the fact that I'm Indian or [not celebrate the fact] that there are not other Indian players out there, because I am proud of who I am. I just love playing football and feel my background helps me."
Dhanda currently plays for Swansea City as an attacking midfielder and is looking forward to inspire the next generation of British Asian footballers. “I think, if they look up to me, I [have to] see myself as a role model for them, and I think it's down to me to give them good advice and do as much as I can to help them." Dhanda's desire to inspire saw the 20-year-old feature in the Football Association's revamped Bringing Opportunities to Communities campaign, designed to help increase Asian representation across the English game.
However, his journey towards a career in professional football has not been a roller coaster ride, with Dhanda forced to develop a thick skin in the face of adversity and outright racism as an up-and-coming young footballer. "I've had a bit of racism growing when I was playing youth football," he said.
"I've had people say the P-word, or like corner shop this or corner shop that - because people stereotype Asians to have those sort of jobs. It has been a problem for me growing up, but it hasn't really affected me. My dad told me since I was young that if you get racism whether it's in football, or school, or wherever, just let it make you work harder. I've said it before - it doesn't really affect me, it just drives me on even more. I've been strong enough to see past it and not let it or let anyone get to me."
Birmingham-born Dhanda, has previously represented England at under-16 and under-17 level. He came into the spotlight in 2013 when he left West Brom's youth setup to join Liverpool.
Despite training regularly at Melwood and joining the first-team at a La Manga warm-weather camp in 2017, Dhanda moved to Swansea at the beginning of last season in search of senior football.
Dhanda's father, Jas, hails from Indian state of Punjab, while his mother is English.