Real Kashmir’s Kallum Higginbotham adapting to life outside the comfort zone

Higginbotham, the team’s only foreign signing this year, says it is “the most tight-knit squad I have been involved in.”

Higginbotham admits his stereotypical view about Indian football had been dispelled after he became part of Real Kashmir. Photo: Getty Images

With a decade-long career in the Scottish league spread across all divisions, including the top flight, Kallum Higginbotham’s signing up with Real Kashmir FC was more about the experience of moving out of Britain than anything else. The 30-year old, though, has been learning the ropes of living in a world starkly different from his own for the past couple of months.

“It’s not difficult, I think it’s taking you out of the comfort zone. Growing up where it’s been so easy contacting people with touch of a finger, it’s probably brought me down a bit and made me realise how much I depend on my iphone or my ipad,” Higginbotham, RKFC’s lone foreign signing this year, told Sportstar on the sidelines of an event here on Tuesday.

Read | Real concerns for RKFC

Having joined the side at what is perhaps the most testing time for anyone in Kashmir — with communication lines down, complete absence of internet in the valley and a throwback to the early 1990s — Higginbotham is coming to terms with actually talking to people at all times instead of searching stuff online all the time. “I think it’s the most tight-knit squad I have been involved in and I think that’s because I have no phone to go and search the web whenever I want. It’s just that in this modern age we do not communicate any more,” he explained.

‘Surprised’

That interaction has also led to a better realisation of Indian football and players and Higginbotham admitted his preconceived notions have been shattered since his arrival here. “There is a stereotypical view of Kashmir and I myself had them, specially after watching the documentary (by BBC, which recently won a BAFTA award). Since I have come, I can safely say that it is completely different and I can imagine that’s what the majority of views outside are.

“I didn’t really know much about Indian football and I probably had the wrong perception of Indian talent, to be honest. I didn’t feel they would be very good and I was surprised at how developed a lot of Indian players are, how good technically with the ball and how hardworking,” he admitted.

The club, with its kit sponsor Adidas, unveiled its home jersey for the coming season at the event. Having finished third in its first-ever I-League appearance and being semifinalist at the 2019 Durand Cup, the RKFC, founded post the 2016 floods in the erstwhile State, has now set its targets higher.

Adidas and the Snow Leopards share a belief that sport has the power to change lives. This power has inspired the youth and put football at the centre of conversations on Kashmir,” co-owner Sandeep Chattoo said.

  Dugout videos