3 min read
One of our clearing department staff members, Craig Hughes was last week featured in his local newspaper, The Kilsyth Chronicle about his time at Grand View University in Des Moines, Iowa. From the US to Kilsyth.... To his American cohorts he was attending University on soccer scholarship, but in Kilsythian Craig Hughes' eyes he was there to study and play football. Now having recently graduated with a degree in Business Marketing from Grand View University, Iowa, the 24 year old is set to use his experience as captain of the Vikings soccer team to boost Kilsyth Rangers' Super League Campaign. The former Kilsyth Academy pupil, who plays as a centre-back, returned home over the summer having won three Regional Championships and reached the final eight in the US National Championships with his side. Craig, of Coach Road, explained: "I've always been good friends with one of the Kilsyth Players, Tony Martin. He had a word with the coaches and they invited me to come down to training. After playing in a friendly I had a chat with the manager and he asked me to sign. I've really enjoyed the start to my time at Kilsyth Rangers." Craig's American adventure started in 2006 when Glasgow-based company FirstPoint USA offered to promote him to universities across the Atlantic. "I always had an interest in studying in the States," he continued. "I didn't know much about Iowa, and I was definitely a bit apprehensive about moving away from home into a new situation. There were a few Scottish guys out there already, one of them was a boy from Cumbernauld, Iain Whiteside. I got in touch with Iain and he gave me more information about Grand View. After speaking with him I felt a lot more confident." Adjusting to a new culture isn't easy, but Craig learned to balance his commitments. He added: "The coaches expected us to behave like full-time professionals, in terms of training every day, watching what we were eating and behaving ourselves off the field. We travelled a lot so I had to spend time catching up on all the classes I missed. It took a few weeks to get used to the workload and disciplining myself but I got to grips with it." Upon his return, Craig was offered a job with FirstPoint USA, who engineered his move, and is now helping other talented athletes win scholarships. He added: "It was very beneficial to get my degree and improve as a player but the most beneficial aspect is definitely the life experience. I had the opportunity to move out of my comfort zone and experience life in a different country. It helped me mature as a person and become a lot more independent." So, which side of the pond does Craig see his future on? "I'm not sure of my plans for the future right now," he admitted. "I love being at home but I also thoroughly enjoyed my four years in America, I will see how things go and figure our what I want to do."