Arzu goes crazy when you see that the silla is alive Don’t Leave Me Episode 265

Arzu goes crazy when you see that the silla is alive Don’t Leave Me Episode 265

Rai started playing football as a youngster in Brecon and had a spell in Merthyr’s academy before being given a trial by Newport at under-16 level.

He quickly earned a scholarship and in March 2023 – aged just 17 – was handed the “special moment” of a first-team debut by Exiles boss Graham Coughlan.

Three further appearances followed last season – including a first start on the final day of the League Two campaign – before Rai was given his contract, the length of which has not been specified.

He has joined what is a relatively short – but growing – list of British South Asian players plying their trade in England’s top four divisions.

Rai has been helped along the way by the Asian Inclusion Mentoring Scheme (AIMS), a Professional Footballers’ Association (PFA) programme set up to enhance the experience of Asian players throughout the professional game.

When he joined Newport, Rai was contacted by Riz Rehman, a former Brentford youngster who is now the PFA’s player inclusion executive.Rehman is in regular contact with Rai, who has attended numerous AIMS events alongside other British Asian players.

“Every event I go to, I learn so much from the senior lads, players like Danny Batth and Mal Benning,” Rai says.An AIMS event will be hosted at least once a year at St George’s Park (the Football Association’s national football centre), where they will get all the South Asian background kids, senior players, younger players – girls and boys – together. It’s networking basically.

You get to see how many players there are and it’s so good because it’s growing every year. Hopefully, that will continue in the coming years.”

Kiban Rai warming up before a Newport gameKiban Rai spent time living in the Gurkhas’ barracks in Brecon as a childRai has also spoken to Neil Taylor, the former Wales defender who is an AIMS mentor.Taylor says Rai’s move into the professional ranks is a sign the scheme is working.

We are seeing the fruits of the labour,” Taylor told Radio 5 Live’s Football Daily podcast..(AIMS) has grown really well. It’s a long process – it might be decades before you really see it come to fruition – but it’s been a good start.

Most of all, we have educated parents, which has been the biggest thing.A lot of the kids just want to play football. But quite often, the parents need help around it, how much commitment it takes and their view on the game.”

Rai says he has been helped by the fact his parents have always backed his bid to become a footballer.They are also responsible for updates on how his progress is making news in Nepal, whose football team are ranked 175th in the world by Fifa.

I don’t want to get too caught up in things like that,” Rai says with a smile, “but my parents will tell me.When they do, I do appreciate it. But the main thing for me is to stay focused, stay humble and work hard.”

Rai, an attacking midfielder or forward, says he is “really close” to the Nepalese culture as a result of his upbringing.Nevertheless, there is no doubt in his mind when talk turns to the possibility of playing international football.

It’s a big dream of mine to play for Wales one day,” Rai says.I was born here, all my friends are from here – it just feels right for me. I feel like this is where I belong.


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