As a club from the heart of London, Chelsea’s youth team is representative of the incredible diversity of the nation’s capital.
England, Ireland, Canada, Ghana, Sweden and Portugal are all represented directly in the club’s under 18s. And if you look back at the parents and grandparents of those players, you’ll find a dozen more countries, from every continent on Earth.
But why no Asian players? Why aren’t the club enrolling more players from that part of the world? It would seem a rare gap in their coverage, something it would be very valuable to remedy.
There are a few reasons. For starters, FIFA rules makes it impossible to sign under 18s from abroad. That provides a big barrier for direct entry for players to arrive at the optimum time for getting them into the academy and training them up in an optimal way.
Of course they can arrive when they’re older, or you could sign English based players with Asian backgrounds, but that’s already limiting you compared to going to the source.
Despite the huge population of Asian countries like the Philippines, China and India, football is a relatively undeveloped sport there, meaning you’re more likely to find a wonderkid even in a tiny country with a long footballing history like Uruguay.
We’re sure Chelsea, especially under the new ownership, are It would certainly help the club pick up fans abroad and improve their sponsorship opportunities – a 20bet promo code in the Philippines will be worth a lot more if there was a Filipino player for the Blues, even just in the youth academy.
There is some history to inspire the next generation – James Younghusband was a Chelsea academy player who graduated in 2003, along with his brother, Phil. They have a Filipino mother, and James played for his national team an amazing 101 times between 2006 and 2019. He provides a brilliant inspiration for those overseas.
A great wrinkle in that story is that both brother ended up being called up by the PFF (Philippine Football Federation) after the organisation was alerted to their eligibility by a teenage football fan who had been playing video game Football Manager.
We’re sure we will soon see another player of Filipino heritage come through at Chelsea, although given the issues we’ve explained above, it seems much more likely they will be born in the UK. Hopefully this time, they won’t need to be helped out by a friendly fan online.