Khileal Remy-Gould loves football with a passion.
Never in his wildest dream, however, did he think he would have the opportunity to travel to Russia or participate and view the opening match between the host country and Saudi Arabia at the 2018 World Cup.
It is an experience that will be forever etched in his memory and fuel even further his dream to one day play professional football with FC Barcelona and the national team. Of course, the ultimate dream of this centre-back, is to one day represent his country at the World Cup.
For this 12-year-old from Cocoyea Village, San Fernando, the 10-day trip to Russia was the perfect gift for passing his Secondary Entrance Assessment (SEA) exams.
Travelling on an airplane for the first time, landing in St Lucia and London before his arrival in Russia, the incredible sites he visited and interaction with other participants like himself from 211 countries, friendships he would have made, were beyond any expectations he had.
The former Grant School Memorial Presbyterian Primary School student passed for St Benedict’s College, La Romaine. A college which is legendary when it comes to football.
“I want to be a professional footballer,” said Khileal who plays with the Anthony Sherwood Football Academy. “I know that injuries can end your career, so my fall back is to be a doctor. I want to be a surgeon because they help people. I like helping people,” he told Newsday Kids.
He said he is not turned off by sick people, “because I put myself in their shoes and ask myself how I would feel if it was me and no one wanted to help. I am not scared of healing the sick.”
About his Russian trip, Khileal said it was a friend of his mother Candice Remy, who fist told them about Football For Friendship (F4F) International Youth Forum sponsored by Gazprom and the national competition held by Brent Sancho and the Sancho Sports Foundation, in April, to select two players, age 12, to participate in the F4F.
The F4F is an international children’s social programme open to participants from the 211 football countries aimed at cultivating important values and interests in a healthy lifestyle through football. Participants from each member association were selected in the capacity as either a player or a journalist.
Encouraged by his mom, Khileal decided to enter as a sports journalist and following the instructions submitted a 30-second video of his journalism and football commentary skills.
He was short-listed with two others, including Kyle Phillip, of St Mary’s College, who entered in his capacity as a player.
“The competition came down to three players and the last bit of the competition to decide the two finalists, was for me to interview the two other boys who entered as footballers. I interviewed them very well and Kyle, he answered my questions very well and he won the second spot.,” Khileal explained.
“I screamed when I got the news. I was just amazed that I won a trip to Russia and I knew it would be an amazing experience and it was. My friends at school did not believe me, but when they did not see me for 10 days, they sent me messages wanting to know where I was and why I was not in school. I did a video chat with them and showed them Russia and they were pretty impressed,” he said.
His mom said while she was anxious for her only child to be away from her for 10 days in a far-off country with strangers, she knew it was a once in a lifetime opportunity, “so I sucked it in and let him go.”