Video Duration 24 minutes 30 seconds
From: Talk to Al Jazeera

Kashif Siddiqi: Kashmir and the power of football

Footballer Kashif Siddiqi discusses how football can draw world’s attention to a cause dear to his heart: Kashmir.

Football moves masses and generates billions of dollars around the world.

The United Nations is now using the popular sport as a new way of diplomacy. Football for Peace, an initiative established in 2006 by FIFA and Chilean legend Elias Figueroa, wants to create a better understanding among people, communities, and governments.

It was revamped six years ago by Kashif Siddiqi, a British footballer of Ugandan and Pakistani-Indian descent.

Siddiqi wants to use his multiethnic background and experience to draw the world’s attention to a cause dear to his heart: Kashmir – an issue that has pitted India and Pakistan against each other for more than 70 years.

My personal mission isn’t against extremism and terrorism … For me it’s advocating the power of football,” Siddiqi says. “As much as I am a footballer playing on the pitch, outside of it I carry a message of peace. And if I can bring that to the youth of Kashmir that need it at such hard times … I hope that me playing in Kashmir will send a really strong message to everyone.

The 33-year-old footballer even decided to leave his team, Oxford United, and join Real Kashmir – carrying a message of peace to a region in conflict.

“Many people have asked me over the past couple of weeks. They have said to me: Are you naive? Are you stupid? What are you doing? You know what my answer is: ‘Anyone who is trying to change the world, is a little bit stupid’.”

Footballer Kashif Siddiqi talks to Al Jazeera about his upbringing, his career and the challenges he faced, Football for Peace and his decision to play for Real Kashmir.