Surprise and delight for inspiring award nominee Layla Banaras

Layla Banaras is nominated for the Sunday Times ‘Young Inspiration Award’ 2020.

Layla Banaras is a 14-year-old footballer for Blues under-16’s and has played for the Club since the age of eight.

As one of very few young Muslim women playing football at her level, Banaras wants to inspire other young Muslim girls to take up the sport and hopes to one day become the first Muslim woman to play for England.

For any 14-year-old, balancing their education with training, gym sessions and matches would be tough. But for Layla, who fasts for a month during Ramadan, it’s even more of a challenge.

The Club is working with Layla to create a dedicated nutrition plan to support her through Ramadan. Her ultimate ambition is to share this and encourage other young Muslims to realise their dreams of a career in football.

Blues surprised Layla with a special call from her role model and biggest inspiration, Paris Saint-Germain and Denmark striker, Nadia Nadim.

Nadia called Layla from Florence immediately after playing a starring role in Denmark’s UEFA Women’s Euro’s qualifier against Italy.

The Danish striker won her 73rd international cap and scored two goals to send her country to the UEFA Women’s Euro Championships in 2022.

Nadia’s journey of overcoming adversity has been nothing short of remarkable. When she was twelve her family fled Afghanistan after her father was murdered by the Taliban.

They arrived at a refugee camp in Denmark where Nadia’s love for football quickly became an obsession.

Nadia now speaks eleven languages and balances playing football at the highest level with training to be a reconstructive surgeon.

Show your support for Layla

You can vote for Layla here.

The Sunday Times ‘Young Inspiration’ Award 2020 voting closes on Monday 16 November.

Winners will be revealed during the Sportswomen of the Year awards ceremony on Wednesday 25 November.

Register to watch the ceremony online here.