Derby County’s Kira Rai is decided to finish a “dream month” on a excessive when she goes head-to-head with West Brom and Mariam Mahmood on the final day of the league season.
Simply two factors separate top-of-the-table Nottingham Forest from each Wolves and Burnley forward of Sunday’s final spherical of FA Girls’s Nationwide League Northern fixtures, with Derby assured to complete fourth after an exciting 3-3 draw with Huddersfield final weekend.
Sikh-Punjabi attacker Rai opened the scoring in that sport with a splendidly executed half-volley on the finish of every week the place she was a visitor speaker at an FA occasion at Wembley Stadium to have fun Vaisakhi, which is a competition significantly auspicious for Sikhs.
The occasion additionally noticed South Asian heritage feminine gamers showcased on the residence of English soccer for the very first time by means of a groundbreaking timeline and wider show – created to celebrate the anniversary of Sky’s partnership with Sporting Equals – that includes each Rai and West Brom’s prodigiously proficient British-Pakistani ahead Mahmood.
“It has been a dream month in some ways,” Rai informed Sky Sports activities Information.
“Naturally, it might have been even higher if as a crew we have been a little bit bit nearer to the highest three, as a result of we have been there or thereabouts at completely different levels in the course of the season.
“However overrall I feel it has been season the place we have in all probability overachieved. We have got a younger squad who’ve come by means of and developed and gained very important expertise.
“That provides us base and so much to be optimistic about for subsequent season, particularly once we change into totally built-in into the soccer membership.
“However on a private degree it was nice to get on the scoresheet on the penultimate weekend – it was one in every of my higher objectives this season as properly! Now, as a crew, we simply need to finish the season on a excessive.”
Rai, who’s one in every of 4 role-model ladies’s gamers from Britain’s South Asian group which are showcased within the exhibition, added: “It was an enormous honour to be a part of the FA occasion and to even have my story informed at Wembley Stadium by means of the timeline [and wider display].
“I used to be actually sat in my seat and I used to be wanting over and I used to be like ‘I swear that is my face!’
“I simply needed to go over and take an image with it. It is fairly massive in actual life, and it was good to see it in actual life.
“I simply hope it conjures up women that seem like me and all the opposite women on the boards. I hope it has a big effect on this nation when it comes to rising variety within the ladies’s sport.
“We all know ladies’s soccer on this nation is just not as various appropriately, and I need to play my half to assist change that.”
The first-of-its-kind timeline features 20 current and former players from South Asian backgrounds, with Rai and Mahmood making a twin entry after a historic sport at The Hawthorns final yr.
Sky Sports exclusively revealed last year that West Bromwich Albion Women would be hosting Derby at The Hawthorns. And in November, the pair each netted in simply the second ever ladies’s sport performed on the well-known stadium, which has been residence to West Brom’s males’s crew for 123 years.
Rai rounded off the scoring in a 3-1 win for Derby within the sport, and Mahmood says West Brom are determined to avenge that loss, with Jenny Sugarman’s crew needing a win to safe a sixth-place end after overcoming quite a lot of setbacks this season.
“Enjoying towards Kira at The Hawthorns and for us to each rating on such an enormous day was simply good to see and good to be part of,” Mahmood informed Sky Sports activities Information.
“It is going to be an thrilling sport [on Sunday] and hopefully we are able to get some revenge and beat them this time.
Mahmood added: “It is nice to characteristic within the timeline alongside Kira. Seeing us characteristic on the boards exhibits how far we’ve come, but in addition exhibits how a lot additional we’ve to go.
“Training and bridging the hole in information about South Asians in soccer stays a significant concern. Our tales matter and I hope this raises constructive consciousness and encourages extra kids, significantly women from South Asian backgrounds, to take up the sport and revel in enjoying soccer.”
For extra tales, options and movies, go to our groundbreaking South Asians in Football page on skysports.com and South Asians in the Game blog and keep tuned to Sky Sports activities Information and our Sky Sports activities digital platforms.