Real Kashmir FC has officially signed British South Asian Oxford Defender and former Arsenal youth and Northampton Town player Kashif Siddiqi on loan. With this loan signing, the clubs also announced their official partnership with Oxford United Football Club, a collaboration that will present a number of football, philanthropic and commercial opportunities. Also Read - Real Kashmir FC Distribute Essential Equipment In Fight Against COVID-19

Siddiqi, who can operate at full-back or in midfield, was due to join the snow leopards at the start of the season but suffered an Achilles tendon rupture whilst training with his parent Oxford United FC. Oxford United Football Club plays in the English League One, based in the world-famous city of Oxford, Oxfordshire, England. The club was founded in 1893 and has played in the top-flight of English football by winning a promotion into the First Division, and won the League Cup in 1986. Also Read - I-League: Late Perez Penalty Gives East Bengal 1-0 Win Over Real Kashmir

“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, but 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,” Siddiqui said. Also Read - Real Kashmir's Next Two I-League Games Cancelled Due to Poor Weather Conditions

“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. Anyone can play football, regardless of where they come from or whatever their background is or what circumstance they are faced with, Football can unite and serve people and the planet beyond the pitch. 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 Mr. Chattoo and David Robertson for this amazing opportunity.”

The collaboration between RKFC and OUFC will see the Indian and British clubs, share Player exchanges, technical knowledge, grassroots player development support on mental, sports science, and technical player development alongside further opportunities across a number of different departments across both clubs. Kashif has become the first loaned player to come over and is one of the few South Asian professional footballers in the UK.

This partnership highlights the Asian and UK diaspora in football and Real Kashmir FC welcome Siddiqi’s experience and Oxford’s enthusiasm which will be of enormous benefit to the region of Kashmir and its youth. Kashif is no stranger to the region as his father was born in India and mother in Uganda, which was his inspiration to co-found the global United Nations-sanctioned youth sports movement Football for Peace with FIFA and Chilean Elias Figueroa. Siddiqi has become known to many as a Football Diplomat and therefore felt at ease with the move.

With both parties coming together to build the foundation for a peaceful and violence-free society through sports in the highest militarised zone in the world, there are good things waiting to happen with such a once in a lifetime, fairytalesque opportunity for both Clubs to use football for the wider good, both on and off the pitch. Making football available to any and all is the goal.

“We are proud to have partnered with Oxford United FC and Kashif here as a loaned player. He is an inspiring individual both on and off the pitch. He has fit right in with the local and foreign players,” Chairman Sandeep Chattoo, Real Kashmir FC said, while welcoming Kashif on board.

“Kashif’s international experiences and Oxford’s international support will be of enormous benefit as we continue to work with the relevant groups to ensure that Real Kashmir FC is a leading player 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.”

Real Kashmir Football Club is a Kashmiri professional football club based in Srinagar, Jammu and Kashmir, managed by ex-Rangers and Aberdeen player David Robertson. Real Kashmir is the first team from Kashmir to compete in the I-League, the first division of football in India. The club participated in their first national competition in September 2016 when they played in the 2016 Durand Cup. In July 2017 Real Kashmir became the first club from J&K to play on foreign soil by playing 4 matches in Scotland. Real Kashmir is participating in all four categories of AIFF I-League.

Vice-Chairman of Oxford United Mr. Zaki Nuseibeh said: “We’re delighted that Kashif is going to Real Kashmir FC. 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.”