We were lucky enough to catch up with global footballer Kash Siddiqi and ask him all about his career and charity, Football for Peace. The 30 year old has traveled across the world playing football and spreading his philanthropic message. Meeting the likes of Pope Francis and Prince William, we can see that Kash is definitely going to be one to watch.
Tell us a little bit about yourself?
I’m Kash Siddiqi and I’m one of the few south Asian footballers from the UK and had the opportunity to play international football as well. I really put all my achievements down to my Mum and what she’s done for me, helped giving me a platform. Today I’m an international footballer and have founded an international charity. I’ve had the pleasure of meeting Pope Francis, Prince William and am also still passionate about Asians in football and trying to promote equality and trying to bring more Asians into this industry.
What gave you inspiration to start football for peace?
Growing up in England is the perfect nation for football. It’s every young boy’s dream to try and get to the top level because as soon as you’re there, it’s all about the football and glamour and I guess it started off a hobby. It didn’t turn into anything until I got scouted for the team. Before that, my Mum always used to take me to Sunday league games and she was really inspirational and gave me the platform to star off. She didn’t really know how to do it either but she’d be there rain, snow, sunshine, she would always be there on the side. I think once things started developing it was a lot easier then.
How can Football for Peace help people?
Being from a British Muslim background, I think Football for peace especially with what I’m trying to do, is really promote integration in society because I really feel that society’s isolated today including the youth. And it’s a key issue in what we’re facing in the world today you know with the fighting, wars, misunderstanding and extremism. I think that if children are all brought together from a young age to mix like I was, its gives you a whole different perspective and that’s why I think sports diplomacy is really key.
Was it ever overwhelming, did you think you’d get to where you are today?
It has been a struggle. The journey’s been quite incredible, especially with me being from a South Asian background. There’s not many role models out there in sports. I still have the ‘pinch myself’ moments, like 2 weeks ago I was in the Vatican with Pope Francis and I was thinking again wow. It’s nuts but I think if you have the right intentions in life, if you have desire and faith to do something, it always works out in the end. It’s never easy and I think that my journeys been overwhelming but I think it’s really taken off. Now I know it’s something big and that it’s just about going to the next stage. I’m keen to still carry on with my career as well.
Sometimes it only takes one person to break the barrier and make someone think that they can do what you do as well right?
The sporting aspects in life give you confidence, self-esteem, dialog, and I think when you haven’t got that in your life regularly, it can lead to other thinks that make you think otherwise, you can be vulnerable to situations that otherwise you wouldn’t get into.
How do you keep yourself so down to earth and avoid being swept about in the fame and glamour of it all?
I don’t even think about that side because growing up, especially in the football world I’ve always been around the footballers. So now when I’m meeting the likes of Ronaldinho or Pele, to me he just a footballer, even though he’s a legend! The way I see it, because I have a mission, there no point meeting someone or getting to know someone if it doesn’t meet the purpose of what I’m trying to do. For me it’s never been about that, Mum’s always brought me up to be someone with the vision that you should never look at what someone else has, you should always look at what they don’t have. And that’s really been the core of how I think and to remember to always appreciate what we have.
Seeing as playing football is your job, do you ever get to play it for fun?
Oh it’s so stressful! You know it’s funny because when I’m playing you don’t actually enjoy it, you start to hate the job and it because so hard and stressful. To give you a rundown of my day: I wake up and eat breakfast then I’m out the door to the training ground. Then I get there and start activation and training, have lunch and start training again. Then you come home and you’re so tired and you still have to warm up and then I also have my charity stuff that I do and it’s such a hard routine. The fun is definitely taken out of it but sometimes when I’m with my friends and it’s away from seasons I can have those opportunities where I can just have fun.
Did you dream about wanting to be a footballer since you were young?
I was so close to football that I wanted to do really well in my career, I always wanted to do something over and beyond. Do something for the world. I think football for me has been a journey and it’s given me the platform to do what I’m doing today and I don’t know where that’s going to take me now, but let’s see.
If you could change your career path or do something else, what would you do?
I would’ve said that I’d like to go into International Relations, but I’ve done that anyway by creating Football for Peace. I’ve always been interested in political aspects of the world and what’s happening, the wars, the lobbying process. You know like House of Cards? I love that. It’s strange because I’ve created Football for Peace and it’s a diplomatic sport so it fits in with football and diplomacy in today’s world. Aside from that, can’t sing, can’t act, so I don’t know what else I’d do.
Is there anything that you’re hoping to achieve through your charity?
Locally, with KSF Nationwide Academy I want to inspire young Asians and get them into football. Internationally, I want Football for Peace to be the United Nations of world football and that’s the kind of aspiration, now we’re getting the big leaders, head of states supports because we’re getting the best players for example. It’ll be easier for us to move the ball off the pitch and deliver our world message.
On a lighter note, we wanted to congratulate you on your wedding to Emily, what was the highlight of the whole wedding for you?
There’s so many parts to it! I think for one, it was the most stressful thing I’ve ever been through. It’s been incredible and I’ve been through a lot of stress in my life! But I think the highlight was really what I stand for, which was bringing together so many people from different cultures, faiths, walks of life that all came together for the wedding. Emily’s obviously English, so her family coming together with mine. The different cultures. I think that was the most amazing part. Taking that with the memory of so many people that came from Australia and America, so we’ve got those amazing memories.
If you were stuck on an island and could only take 3 things with you, what would they be?
Okay so I won’t have reception there. So I’ll take…can I take a human? I’ll take my mum, my wife and a prayer matt.
If you had a film made about your life, who would you like to play yourself in it?
A celebrity right now…but they’d have to be Asian!
Oh, well pick anyone and we could just make him super tanned!
Super tanned, great! I’m trying to think of someone young out there right now. There’s so many great older actors out there who just wouldn’t fit the bill.
What about any favourite shows or movies?
Titanic. Definitely Titanic! I’ve actually watched it 6 time, mad isn’t it? I also love Power. But I mean I can’t really relate it to my life or career with the whole drug aspect. But I think that guys a good actor, the one who plays Ghost, I don’t think he’ be a perfect fit for me but let’s just go with it!
Is there anything that people don’t know about you, or would be surprised to hear about you?
If you asked this question to Emily, you’d get lots of answers! I’m like a big baby, and that’s what Emily would say about me too, I’m such a baby. Just like a massive kid at heart, with some of the things I do and say.