Former Bantams captain Zesh Rehman believes the time for talking about how to get more British Asians involved in football is over – and is proud to be spearheading a drive to change the cultural landscape of the national game.

The ex-Fulham and QPR defender is a rarity: a player of Pakistani origin born and raised in England who plays professional football.

He currently lives in Hong Kong where he plays for Kitchee, who on Monday took on Manchester United in a high-profile pre-season encounter in front of a 40,000 crowd.

Despite his geographical distance from the English game, Rehman has his finger on the pulse of what is going on back home through work with his eponymous foundation.

“The whole thing is about doing rather than talking,” said 29-year-old Rehman, who also counts Norwich and Brighton among his former clubs.

“I am fully aware about the debate. What we are doing with the Zesh Rehman Foundation, in collaboration with the PFA and Premier League, is trying to get more British Asians in the game.

“It is something which I am very passionate about. Hopefully we can reduce the number of racist incidents and get more kids from different backgrounds involved because the UK is so diverse now.

“Any form of racism stems from ignorance and a lack of education. But football has an extraordinary power to bring people together. We are trying to use that in a positive way.”

Rehman has seen what can be achieved with the strides taken at Valley Parade.

“As captain of Bradford, I was aware of the history in that area and what happened with the riots (of 2001) that put a negative image on the whole thing,” he said.

“While I was there we had some good success in terms of the local fans starting to feel part of the club. They were starting to come to the games.

“The real fruits were seen earlier this year when Bradford went to Wembley twice and had several thousand British Asian kids supporting them.

“These things take patience and time but it will improve because football is such a global attraction.”

Working with the community departments of QPR and Chelsea, Rehman has launched an initiative called S-2-S (Sidelined-2-Sidelines) which aims to get volunteers from the British Asian community qualified as Level One and Level Two coaches.

By then going back into their local communities, it is hoped they will provide an example for others to follow.

“In the first instance, we are just trying to get more numbers in more areas of the game, whether that is coaching, refereeing, attending games, in the media or finance departments,” said Rehman.

“Ultimately, we want to see a greater representation on the pitch. By doing it this way, firstly what we are trying to do is make them feel they are part of a club and they are no different to anyone else.

“The next step is to change their mentality and not allow them to feel sorry for themselves or believe that their race or background is a barrier to their progression.

“The problem over the past couple of decades has been people have been talking about what needs to be done. Now we are doing something.”