It has been an extraordinary few weeks for Oxford United’s Kash Siddiqi.
The United midfielder is now back in the UK after joining Real Kashmir on loan and experiencing life in Kashmir for the very first time.
“It’s probably the the highest militarized zone in the world but it’s also one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever been to” he told episode 2 of the Official Oxford United Podcast
“I think it’s down to the Kashmiri people and the amazing energy the place has. As much as I am a footballer playing on the pitch, outside of it I carry a message of peace. And if I can bring that to the youth of Kashmir I feel both myself and the Oxford football family are making a huge contribution thousands of miles away. I’ll miss the place, as I’ve never experienced so much hospitality and love from people, and I’ve been fortunate enough to travel the world. I look forward to going back once the situation allows.
“Real Kashmir play in the Indian top tier of the I League. And you have to remember the situation. The squad plays with their heart on their sleeves and actually play for the people of Kashmir. It means so much to these people – match days is what the whole city gears up for. For 90 minutes everyone is on the same page cheering on Real Kashmir. That is Football for Peace in a nutshell!The club is run like a big family. The chairman Mr Sandeep and his wife are some of the most humble people I’ve met. The club has had tremendous success and a promotion in their first year from Division 2 since the club’s launch.
“My mum’s always taught me to appreciate what you have and don’t look at what you don’t have. One thing I can assure all of the young U's fans listening to the podcast, that region’s youth do not have the same opportunity as you guys. So really try and make the most of whatever chances you get even during these hard times. Learn as much as you can from as many diverse people and age groups; everyone has something valuable to offer.”
You can hear a truly fascinating interview with Kash right now in the second episode of the official Podcast where Oxford fan and Somerset fast bowler Jack Brooks also joins us for a chat.
The podcast is available HERE or on itunes and Spotify (Oxford United Official where the matchday dressing room playlist is also available to listen to)