Real Kashmir: Kallum Higginbotham opts for I-League move

By Tyrone SmithBBC Scotland Sport
Kallum Higginbotham
Kallum Higginbotham says he had to seize the opportunity to play abroad

How would you feel, as a footballer, about plying your trade in one of the world's most militarised zones?

Forward Kallum Higginbotham is doing just that after agreeing a one-year deal with I-League outfit Real Kashmir.

The 30-year-old said the easy thing would be to remain in the Scottish Championship, where he has spent the last three seasons with Dunfermline.

"I had offers to stay, but I have always had a burning desire to play abroad," he said.

Real Kashmir are managed by former Rangers and Aberdeen defender David Robertson, who counts son Mason as part of his first-team squad.

The pair's experience at the club was featured in a BBC documentary earlier this year.

And Higginbotham is unfazed at the prospect of following in their footsteps to the I-League.

"I suppose you get that risk anywhere in the world, you get stuff that happens back home in the UK so that doesn't scare me going out there. It's just a case of me going and focusing on my football," he told BBC Scotland.

'Moving to Kashmir took a bit of convincing'

"The easy thing for me and the family would have been just to stay here and play out my career probably in the Scottish Championship. I had offers to stay, but I have always had a burning desire to play abroad, and try a different way of living; that opportunity came up and I have grabbed it with both hands."

Robertson guided Kashmir to a third-place finish in their first season in the I-League last term, and Higginbotham knows what to expect.

"The Foreign Office tell you not to travel there [Kashmir] unless it is necessary; if I was to focus my mind on that, I probably wouldn't be going out there.

"I'm looking at the football side, the opportunity to be part of a successful team, and David's ambition is to win that league. I believe I can add that quality to enable us to do that.''

However, the move to India represents his most daunting challenge.

While Higginbotham says he did not need much persuading to make the switch, he admits getting his fiancée on board with it was a tougher proposition.

''It took a bit of convincing at the start for me to convince her to let me go. She is going to be back here looking after the kids and working, and that in itself is going to be hard enough for her. But when we sat down we had a good chat and she came round to the idea - she's fully supportive and fully behind me now.

"That's all I can ask for."

He added: "With kids, they dote on their parents, and for me not being able to wake up to them in the morning is going to be very tough because I love them with all my heart, but it's just one of those things I have to do. It's part of being a footballer, and the opportunities that sometimes come along. I believe everything happens for a reason so, I don't want to let this opportunity go."

David Robertson has been in charge of Real Kashmir since January 2017
David Robertson manages Higginbotham's new team Real Kashmir

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