Interview With Former Client: Samaira Khan

8 min read
Samaira Khan is a former FirstPoint USA Soccer Scholarship recipient, who headed out to Tennessee Wesleyan College earlier this year. Using questions asked by our readers, we caught up with Samaira this week to reflect on her time so far in the USA, her highlights, and what advice she has for any other talented young athletes considering a Sports Scholarship to the USA. Hi Samaira, Can you tell us a bit about your sporting background? My sporting background was always cricket and football. I started football the earlier of the two sports then went into county cricket and then quickly found myself back into football. I was 13 when I trialled at arsenal and luton town ladies respectively. But then instead of pursuing football I went towards cricket. Until I was 14 I had cricket as my main sport and football as a kick about with friends. I did play for my football team in school aswell as the cricket team. But then eventually left cricket for football aged 15. From there I stayed and played with a Sunday league club known now as AFC Dunstable Town Ladies. Made 106 appearances in my 6 year spell and scored 96 goals, won the league cup and also won top goal scorer 4 times in those 6 years. Eventually left for Tennessee Wesylean College in my last year of playing for AFC Dunstable, leaving mid season with 9 games and 11 goals.   What made you choose FirstPoint USA and are you glad you did? I chose FirstPoint USA because of the people that worked for the company. They were always so open and honest about their own stories and were always so excited to see talent vary from person to person. I met some great friends through this process and have some people that I genuinely look up to. I'm very happy I chose FirstPoint USA, they made my process so easy and supported me throughout it and still to this day keep up on my progress which is really nice that they continue to support and check up on previous clients.   How did you find last year's showcase? Last years showcase was quite possibly the best time of my career. At the start I was a bag of nerves and it showed in my first game. I was in it but not making the impact I loved making. Luckily the FirstPoint staff were on point to give the pep talk. Shout out to Nicola Pitticas for it, basically telling me that I need to enjoy myself and just play like I know how to. Plus I was her client so it had to be done! I'm not sure if I ended up scoring a hat-trick or 2 goals and got an assist too. After that game I was told many coaches wanted to speak to me but I was already signed to TWC. So politely thanked them for their intrest and went home very happy   How did you find the initial leaving home to go to America? I wasn't too phased about fitting in or experiencing a different culture. I was more anxious because it was my chance to do what I loved doing. Playing a sport at one of the highest levels and studying my degree at the same time. When you're driven and have been given a shot, leaving home doesn't really worry you as much   What has been the highlight of your time in the U.S so far? Highlight of my time in the US must have been the current season. I came over in the spring of 2012 and it was not in season. Even though I enjoyed the semester I really wanted to get into the swing of things. I had been training since that semester all the way into August. I actually enjoyed Pre-season and all the fitness tests along with it. Just proved whether we worked hard enough over the summer, I proved I did by passing all the fitness tests. Then the schedule of training, playing games, travelling and staying in hotels has been amazing.   How have you found it balancing training, college and social life? And which do you dedicate the most of your time towards? I found it quite easy when I have a to do list. My social life revolves around my college work and soccer career. I don't drink alcohol and don't go clubbing so I focus everything on those two major aspects of my life. I rather spend time skyping family, friends and my other half at home then going out. My social life is there don't get me wrong, I go to restaurants and other activities but no night life. I'm focusing on being the best possible athlete and that involves early nights and early mornings!   Are there opportunities to earn some cash out there? There is always opportunities to make cash, either on campus or coaching. Being from the UK, coach always gives us coaching jobs and I make $12 per hour and do about 3 hours a week. I don't work too much as I have so much work this semester and my focus is there. When I need money I can make it so it's never a worry What are the facilities like at your college, and are they as you expected? I would have to say the facilities at my college are a good standard. The campus is so pretty, seriously. You walk around and the trees and buildings are a breath of fresh air. The gym we use is old school and has my favourite machines! The soccer field is amazing, the scenery and the pitch itself is so great to see and play on. The classrooms could do with a lick of paint, but if you can sit there and the teacher can teach, nothing else matters right?   How do you think the U.S attitude to college sports differs from that of UK schools? Compared to the UK, the US have a never die attitude towards their college sports. Fair play and athleticism are the emphasised at every game. They take everything so seriously and are fiercely competitive which will make you into the best possible player you can be   Can you describe a typical day in the life of a college athlete? Typical day would be getting up praying (for me), going to breakfast and starting classes. Then returning and getting some lunch then back off to the final class. I would then have practice for 2 hours and would come back have a shower and catch up on my prayers and homework. Then would be time to go have dinner then finishing off school work until it was all done. Depending on your schedule, your sport has certain priority in season. For example I would have to make sure no classes overlapped training, or if they did, whatever time I would finish I would have to head straight up to training warm up and join in. Have mid-week games and weekend games too, so, if traveling, pack your work that's due for the week and study for the exams you may have. So, typically training everyday, going to classes everyday and playing 2-3 games in the week. Might sound hectic but when you're in it, you realise how to handle it   What advice do you have for anyone considering a sports scholarship? Make sure you're as ready as possible. You have to work yourself until you can't work any more, and still be able to give something. It's like playing your sport and coming off tired. You to come off that pitch knowing you have given everything, to the brink of exhaustion. You need that approach with not just sport but with college work too. Remember your here for an education not a free ride, and you will be whipped into shape if you forget that. Be able to balance out both sides of it. Most important: prove a point and make this opportunity worthwhile. Don't ever go into a sports scholarship half-hearted, set your goals and work yourself to the bone to achieve them! Oh and gong forget enjoy yourself!   We would like to thank Samaira for taking the time to answer our questions! If you have any questions you would like to put to a former FirstPoint USA client, tweet them to @firstpointusa1 and they could feature in our next client interview.  

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