Khurram Shazad Interview

As part of our Inclusion Ambassador programme, we spoke to Khurram Shazad. Khurram is a football player from Halifax whose career has taken him to Iran, America and Austria.

Please can you give us an overview of your football career?

Like most kids, I started playing football when I was about 9-10 years old and would just have kickarounds with my friends wherever we could find any space like car parks and school playgrounds. The first team I played was for St. Columbas in Halifax when I was 11 and I’ve played football every season since then.

When I got older, I got selected to play for Pakistan U23 and the day after my GCSE’s, I flew out to Iran to play in an international tournament. That was an amazing experience and made we want to really push myself to see where I could go in football. I went to Calderdale College to study one of their sports courses and played in their teams that were in partnership with FC Halifax Town. I was lucky enough to get scouted by a University in the USA and was offered a scholarship to play in their football programme and study for my degree at the same time. The University was called Young Harris and was in the North of Georgia and had a reputation for being a good football college as they played in the NCAA Division 2. It was amazing being able to travel around America, playing different colleges and I also got to meet lots of new people from all around the world.

What did you do when you left University?

I finished University in December 2014 and was offered a pro contract for a club in Austria called WSG Wattens. They play in the Austrian 3rd Division and are owned by the family that own Swarovski. That was an amazing experience as we were training twice a day and playing against some of the best teams in Europe. We played against Inter Milan and Bayern Munich reserves in pre-season friendlies and they were excellent so that’s something I’ll always be able to tell my kids. After 2 years in Austria, I came back to England. I was missing home and my family all still live here so I came back to see if I could combine playing semi-professional football with a job. I currently work at a school in Bradford and also play football for Silsden.

What are your plans for the future?

In the future I would like to work for myself doing something involved with sport. I’m not sure if that’s coaching or something else sports related but at the moment, I’m enjoying playing football for Silsden on a Saturday and for FC Panda on a Sunday so I just want to play for as long as I can. Once I come towards the end of my playing career I guess I’ll look at what options are out there for me.

Is there any advice you’d give to young people that want to play professional football?

The best advice I can give is to just keep working hard and not giving up. That can be hard if you get knock-backs but all you can do is keep trying and once you get an opportunity, you need to grab it with both hands. When I got offered the chance to go to America, it would have been easy to turn it down. I didn’t know anybody who’d done that before and I’d not done much travelling myself, but a few of my family members and friends really pushed me to take the chance and I’m so glad I did. My hope now is that the next generation of kids from my community get that opportunity and they take it and go even further in football then I did.