From Kenya to FCV - Khalid Rahim has big dreams
It was 26 degrees Celsius in Kenya on Monday morning.
Compare that to a frosty reading of just four degrees in Stamford and it’s no wonder FCV Academy's Khalid Rahim is feeling the effect of the UK’s cold snap for the first time.
Born and raised in in the east African country, Rahim arrived at Borderville while the weather was still pleasant, but his focus has been solely on honing his footballing skills.
The youngster has had to adjust to life more than 6,000 miles from home, and he’s not on his own when it has come to adapting to the colder climate as he’s joined at FCV – the UK's first international football academy – by team-mates from as far away as Sydney and Bermuda.
But all the players relish the challenges, and Rahim is no different.
“The thermals have been out for a while now,” he joked.
“I’ve gone from playing in 25 to 30-degree heat to playing here in four degrees. It’s quite the change, but I’m really enjoying my time.
“The fact that everyone is from different cultures and backgrounds is really interesting. You get to learn about all these different places like Australia and the Caribbean.
“I’ve settled in really well. The lads have been great to be around, the coaching has been phenomenal and the staff at the Garden House are brilliant.
“Everything we need is there to live the life of a footballer. We eat properly, live properly and get to sleep properly. We get up every day ready to play football, and that’s all I need.”
As a sports-mad child growing up in Kenya, football isn’t necessarily the route you are led down, and Rahim was no different.
He tried his hand at a wide range of sports in his younger days, including athletics, golf and even table tennis.
Most boys of his age grew up and wanted to mirror the achievements of Kenyan icons David Rudisha and Collins Injera, but not this young man, his sights were firmly set on a round-ball game.
His football coach back home gave him the baseline skills and knowledge needed to make it as far as Lincolnshire and the FCV Academy, but his dreams are set much further afield with hopes of emulating his own hero, Premier League star Victor Wanyama.
“The people of Kenya love football,” he said.
“When I was growing up, football was always my priority but we played a range of sports. Kenya’s first sport is definitely athletics but rugby is very popular too. Football is growing though and we love the English game.
“Victor Wanyama is a big star, I’ve always looked up to him and he’s part of the reason I’m here. Seeing him come from Kenya and to make it to playing for Tottenham is a big inspiration, I want that to be me one day.”
Whilst those dizzy heights may still seem a long way away, Rahim is taking all possible strides towards achieving his goal, and knows it’s down to him to put in the hard graft.
In last Friday’s game against Mansfield Town – a professional academy – Rahim netted one of FCV’s two goals despite their defeat. He was facing a much older and more developed outfit in the Stags' under-21 side, but was happy with his performance.
“The game against Mansfield was a great experience. Playing against professional teams is a realisation of how hard we need to work to make it there. They are the kind of teams we want to be playing for.
“Playing against older guys just means you have to out-smart and work harder than them. They were older than me, and bigger and stronger than me, but you have to make the right movements to be better than them technically, that really makes the difference.
“We are getting all the chances we need. The Academy gives us every opportunity and Grant [Brown – FCV Academy Manager] and Ben [Watts – FCV Academy Coach] provide the perfect training. That next step is down to us, we have to work hard and perform.
“I want to make it professionally - we all do. I want to make my dream come true.”