The 34-year-old vows to work for the community while at his new club in India.
Real Kashmir ha officially signed Oxford United’s British-Pakistani defender Kashif Siddiqi on a loan deal. Accordingly, the Snow Leopards have also announced a partnership with the League One club. This partnership is supposed to present opportunities on football, commercial and philanthropic fronts.
On this move, the player said, “This opportunity means a lot to me and I’d like to thank everyone at Real Kashmir FC and Oxford FC. I have been out of the game due to injury, during which I have been really focused on getting fit but also community work. That is a prelude to a really exciting new adventure for me in Kashmir with a major team in India. I’d like to bring my charitable work to Kashmir through Football for Peace, although I am also desperate to get my boots on and start training again.”
Infact, Siddiqi was supposed to join Real Kashmir ahead of the commencement of the ongoing campaign itself. However, an Achilles tendon rupture that he suffered whilst training with Oxford United meant that the loan deal was delayed.
Kashif Siddiqi added, “I want to work within Kashmir across the community and start to continue to spread the positive contribution which football can make on so many different levels. Real Kashmir FC has given so much hope to people in this region and I really want to amplify this across the world. Kashmir is a perfect fit for me as a player but also as a person: the Kashmiri people are warm and welcoming and the club, in particular, is very forward-thinking and I want to thank Sandeep Chattoo and David Robertson for this amazing opportunity.”
Interestingly, The 34-year-old has previously played for the Arsenal youth team and Northampton Town. Additionally, he has also represented the Pakistan national team and their U-23 side in the past.
Moreover, the association between Real Kashmir and Oxford United would see the two clubs share technical knowledge on a variety of issues along with support for player development at the grassroots level. Siddiqi’s father was born in India. He has also co-founded the United Nations-sanctioned ‘Football for Peace,’ which is a youth sports movement with FIFA and former Chilean football player Elias Figueroa. Infact, Kashif Siddiqi has grown to be renowned as a football diplomat for the constructive moves that he has taken over the years.
Real Kashmir’s chairman Chattoo seemed to be delighted by the prospect of these twin moves that his club has pulled off. He stated, “We are proud to have partnered with Oxford United and to have Kashif here as a loan player. He is an inspiring individual both on and off the pitch. He has fit right in with the local and foreign players.
“Kashif’s international experience and Oxford’s international support will be of enormous benefit as we continue to work with the relevant groups to ensure that Real Kashmir is a leading club in making football open to all in the region. The partnership with Oxford United is based on an exchange of knowledge and their enthusiasm for Indian football and in particular, Kashmir will help grow football for our future generations.”
Furthermore, Zaki Nuseibeh, vice-chairman of Oxford United, stated, “We’re delighted that Kashif is going to Real Kashmir. As club owners, we have a responsibility to continuously work on initiatives through which we can use football for the wider good. I am confident that Kashif will be a great asset to the Real Kashmir FC squad as a loanee from Oxford United FC on the pitch and off the pitch. He will also undoubtedly be passionately carrying a message of peace to a region so desperate for it.”
Currently, the I-League season has been put on a halt due to the COVID-19 outbreak in the country. Real Kashmir FC are placed in fourth spot, as they have gained 22 points from 15 matches. Mohun Bagan have already been declared as the champions of the 2019-20 season though.