Layla Banaras wins Sunday Times Young Inspiration of the Year Award 2020

Banaras, a 14-year-old footballer who plays for Blues under-16s, scooped the prestigious award that focuses on the young talent of the future.

After being shortlisted from thousands of entries, Layla faced a tense wait until the awards were revealed last night in the official Sunday Times Sportswomen of the Year 2020 ceremony.

Layla was nominated for both her desire to be a role model for other young Muslim footballers and trailblazing ambition to one day become the first Muslim woman to play for England.

The ceremony was held online for the first time and brought together inspirational women from across the sports world.

The judging panel comprised of esteemed sportswomen including Dame Jessica Ennis-Hill and Dame Kelly Holmes.

Kate Richardson-Walsh OBE, former England Hockey Captain and Olympic Gold medallist, presented the Young Inspiration Award and the youngster’s smile changed to one of shock and awe as she received the accolade.

Layla’s story has captured the hearts and minds of players, staff, and fans alike.

Jonathan James, Regional Talent Club Manager, and Paul Cowie, Head of Youth Development, both nominated Layla for the Award and expressed their delight at the news:

“At the RTC and Academy we want our young people to feel empowered to follow their passion and stand up for what they believe in. 

“Layla has made it her aspiration to not only become a professional footballer, but also to be an inspiration for others, which is a really admirable quality.”

“We are delighted that Layla has been awarded the Young Inspiration Award and see this as a fantastic platform for her to share her message with others, whilst also getting the recognition she deserves.

“Everyone at the RTC and Academy is incredibly proud of Layla”.

On behalf of everyone at Blues, we would like to congratulate Layla for her phenomenal achievement and are excited to see what the future holds.

We would also like to give special thanks to Paris Saint-Germain and Denmark striker, Nadia Nadim, for her support.  

Keep Right On, Layla!