11-year-old John Karl Kavourides who plays as a midfielder or striker was scouted from one of our northern trials back in October 2020 and thereafter, post trial by Carlisle United who he then went on to sign for.
We caught up with both John and his father Nektarios to gain an insight into his football journey and how life has been since signing with Carlisle United.
Firstly John explained: "I started playing football at the age of eight with the local children while living out in Malawi, Africa. This is where I gained my love of the game."
He continued: "We used to play bare foot & without much structure, guidance and equipment. I took it upon myself to look up some basic drills to practice alone and with my dad each day during his free time. This motivated me and made me want to learn and do more; I would continuously incorporate new drills and skills into my routine and challenge myself to improve."
After leaving Africa, John told us his next steps: "Moving back to England at age nine, I began training and playing with a local grass roots team in Penrith. This is where I got my first experience of training & playing under a coach and alongside a team."
"I attended a weekly ball skills session which was focused on developing ball control and skills. At the end of these sessions we would play short matches where the emphasis was to apply the skills we learnt. The games were in a confined space, short and fast paced which got me used to moving the ball, making quick passes and finding a space."
"During this time, I played in a few tournaments with my grass roots team. During the summer, I attended a couple of academy camps winning the penalty shootout and tournament." He added.
John continued to show real hunger for the game and continuously searched for new opportunities and challenges, he told us: "At age nine I joined another football academy after a short trial at the after school sessions. The sessions here entailed agility, fitness, lots of drills; some rather complex with a lot of mind work. These were then followed by matches at the end alongside mixed age groups."
"Playing with older, more experienced players was challenging and it enabled me to develop my game and physicality further. During school holidays there would often be a full week’s academy camp which was brilliant."
However, all of this football was still not enough for the young playmaker who wanted to continue to develop and improve. He explained: "During this period, I enrolled in some one to one/small group sessions which were great for developing my feet and ball control further. The sessions were fun and challenging as we would compete against each other in the drills."
He continued: "I also joined the Carlisle United Development centre after a short trial and attended weekly sessions with a mix of drills and matches. I was invited to play with the U10s academy team against Glasgow Rangers & also played a couple of games against other academies with the development centre team."
"Later that year, I joined another grass roots team to play in the Carlisle league in addition to the Penrith based league, so at times would have to play two consecutive games with both of my grassroots teams."
"At age 10, I continued to play grassroots football and partake in all the other sessions including a brief spell with an academy focusing on small group one to ones."
After all of his hard work, John and his father opted to attend our trial event in October 2020 with hopes of being scouted, he explained: "I attended a couple of football trials, UK Football Trials being one and was scouted by six pro clubs including a Championship team and offered the opportunity to trial with others!"
"This was unfortunately disrupted and affected with the pandemic and lockdowns we were undergoing at the time as well as travel distance restrictions for my age."
However, John did not let this stop him. He told us: "At age 11, I was invited to play for a local academy team after a short trial and to play in the JPL at the start of the new season. I trained and played matches with them alongside my other grassroots teams. At this point I had a full football schedule with only a single day off a week."
During this time whilst playing a very busy schedule, John finally received an invitation to trial with Carlisle United who he was then offered a contract with the U12s in September 2021. He told us: "Playing for Carlisle United has been an amazing opportunity so far and I hope to develop and improve further."
"Outside of the scheduled matches against pro academy clubs, I have had the opportunity to play against Cat 1 clubs, playing against Everton, Sunderland, Newcastle, Leeds, Hearts, Middlesbrough, Manchester United and Glasgow Rangers. I have had the opportunity to play in various positions, assisted and scored goals for my team."
John's attitude and commitment is exactly the one needed to push further in the game. He told us: "Outside of all these sessions I always took, and still take any opportunity to practice alone and with my dad down at our village football pitch, this particularly helped me remain focused during all the lockdowns, with no official football sessions operating. I also have a list of my own indoor drills and exercises I have been sent by various coaches and some downloaded myself for days when outdoors is not an option. This list continuously grows."
Everyone at UK Football Trials would like to congratulate John and wish him the very best with his football in the future.