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Kaheem Parris dreams of big European move

But for now, Jamaican ball maestro hones skills at Slovenia's NK Krka

Wednesday, September 16, 2020

Kaheem Parris, the fleet-footed ball wizard who impressed as a teenager, is growing up in the kingdom of football — one baby step at a time.

At 20 years old and with his youthful exuberance as a schoolboy and national youth player fading in the rear view, Parris is gearing himself for the next phase of a career widely viewed as “full of promise” if properly nurtured.

With his natural abilities, which have caught the eyes and interests of professional clubs across fertile Europe, the consensus is that the sky is the limit for the former Dinthill High School ball artist.

Parris' handlers have strategically put the wily attacker into a growth and development regime as they prepare him for the next steps up football's challenging ladder.

Naturally, the player is hungry for the game's glamour and glimmer, but for now he has embraced the process and has resigned himself that, for now, the best shot to his proverbial goals, is the patient waiting game.

Parris, who has represented Jamaica's Under-17 and Under-20 teams with distinction, is currently honing his array of skills at second division Slovenian side NK Krka on loan from Jamaica outfit Cavalier SC. So far, he has scored three goals from six starts since joining in February.

Like an uncut diamond, the left-footed magician is also polishing his all-round game by building muscle and fitness, plus expanding his knowledge base of professional football life.

And by his own admission, he is soaking it all up.

“I'm doing really well so far and I'm looking forward to having a successful season. I've been well received by the club and the management, coaching staff, players and fans all have made me feel welcome,” Parris told the Jamaica Observer from his base in Slovenia, the successor state of the former Yugoslavia.

“Honestly, the level here is really good and I believe that this experience will help me develop and grow as a professional. I believe in my talent and I think if I keep working hard, then I can reach a really high level,” he said.

Before coming to NK Krka earlier this year, Parris had another loan stint last year with top-league Domzale, the former club of compatriot Shamar Nicholson who had moved on to Belgium's topflight Charleroi.

Parris thinks his travels to the central European country are bearing fruits, particularly at NK Krka where his overall game has been receiving a boost.

“I've definitely grown and developed a lot [since arriving at NK Krka]. The professional aspect of football here is high and our training sessions are intense, and the matches are competitive.

“I'm especially improving defensively and with my work rate off the ball. Also, off the field I'm learning how to live and look after myself in a foreign country,” he said.

But while Parris is getting regular matches with is club and continues to win the admiration of his coaches, it is just a matter of time before his abilities and ambition take him to higher ground.

“In two years, I would love to be playing in a championship like Switzerland, Belgium, etcetera. But I know it's not easy, so I'm focused today in improving day by day so I can eventually dominate Slovenia.

“Obviously, I would love to reach the highest level in Europe and I have a very good agent and support team [that will help get me there].

“I know I have the talent to do it, but I just need to keep focused and keep improving in every area. Most people in Jamaica would say I should focus on going to England, but who knows, maybe I would love to play in Spain or Italy,” Parris noted.

The player, who relishes playing in wide positions and using close ball skills for deadly cut-ins, has been on the radar of Reggae Boyz Head Coach Theodore Whitmore, who has backed up his respect for the young player's talent by giving him a taste of life at the senior level.

It's a trust and faith that Parris has not taken lightly as he looks to build up his credentials as an international.

“When it's all said and done, I hope that I have a successful national team career. Right now, I'm focused only on establishing myself at the European professional level.

“If I am called up to Qatar 2022 qualification games, it would simply mean that I'm ahead of schedule,” he reasoned.

A young man himself and still feathering in the glorious game of football, Parris had a few words for others following the the elusive dream of making it big in a sport of glorious uncertainties.

“My words of advice for young aspiring Jamaican footballers is that they need to understand that the road is difficult and that you have to be ready to fight. Being in a foreign country alone is difficult, but as long as you make the decision to adapt, then you can do it,” he charged.

Meanwhile, Parris' agent Kevin Cowan says it is his client's dazzling skills that has cemented his faith that the young man from Linstead, St Catherine, could reach the game's heady heights.

But has experience has taught, natural ability alone will not cut it.

“The reason why I'm working with Parris and fighting for him internationally is down to the fact that he's truly an exceptional talent. I've seen a lot of talented players over the years and Parris is right up there at the very top.

“People are normally blown away after seeing Parris play up close, but I've been around long enough though to know that it takes a lot more than talent to make it to a certain level.

“But I strongly believe that Parris can do it and he knows what he needs to do and he's moving in the right direction. I'm very excited about his future possibilities,” Cowan said from his Florida base.

The Jamaican-born agent, who also represents Nicholson, says Parris' progress is on schedule as focused attention is being paid to improve is weak areas and to make stronger where he is already at a high level.

“From a physical standpoint, Parris is much stronger now as compared to when he first arrived in Slovenia. He's doing a lot of individualised weight/strength training with the trainer at the club [NK Krka], and has now added power and explosiveness to his game.

“Naturally, Parris would like to be at a higher level than he is at today, however, the process takes time and he's fully aware of that as there are some details in his game that need improvement and he's working towards that.

“At the rate that he's improving, I think he'll soon be ready to take a big step,” Cowan ended.