Electric on the field, Kai Brown has been a constant force in the Whitehawk attack since arriving from Hastings United in September with his innate movement and silky footwork. And now, as we move into 2023, it is time to swivel the spotlight onto the 21-year-old playmaker.
So Kai, the obligatory opener: how have you found things since joining from Hastings United?
It’s been very good to be honest! I’ve joined a very good bunch of lads. In regards to the football side of things I joined at a really good time – when we had a little unbeaten run, which is good, and obviously the confidence was high. I feel like, bar the last three games, we’ve been playing really good football. It’s not just been lucky games; the games that we’ve won we have won really convincingly as well, so that’s always a good start. When I came into the team I didn’t actually know anyone, so winning was a good start…and it made it a lot easier to be honest!
What do you think it was about Whitehawk that particularly attracted you?
I’d heard of Whitehawk over the years; Whitehawk’s quite a historic club. I know recently they hadn’t had the best of luck with the football pyramid, but I knew it was a big club – I’d heard of some of the players that were here and obviously my thing was to try and get my name back out there again and show them what I can do.
You arrived with a really impressive CV, obviously still very young…is your goal to return to the level you were at before?
Yeah, 100%! Throughout my whole life all I’ve wanted to do is be a professional footballer. I got the chance to when I was at Ipswich [Town], it didn’t work out the way I planned it to, but the end goal for me is to get back into full-time football, because I love the game. I know it’s not that easy, football’s a harsh game. So yeah, I’d definitely say that the ambition is to get back to full-time football, 100%.
You earned a move to Ipswich Town in 2018 and featured on the bench once against Leeds United…how was it being told you’d be involved in the first team?
It was quite a surreal moment, to be honest! Leading up to it I was in good form with the U23s, so I was training with the first team. When you’re in that kind of environment you hear things but you’re never too sure how true it is. And then obviously when it came about I was just like, wow! Obviously Leeds [United], massive club – it was the season that we got relegated when I was at Ipswich, but it was just the feeling of walking out in front of 40,000 fans, at the time I was only 18 but yeah, it was a great experience to be honest! I was looking at the players on their [Leeds] team, obviously Luke Ayling who’s still there now, it was just ‘wow’ moment, these players are playing in the Prem[ier League] now!
Obviously an attacking player, would you say you prefer playing centrally or out on the wing?
To be honest it’s wherever the gaffer wants to play me! There was a season at Ipswich where I played just behind the striker, playing in like a centre-forward role, and I did really well. When I was growing up I’ve always had my mates say to me ‘what is your position?’, and sometimes I’d say that I don’t even know myself! For me it’s just playing in an attacking role. I’d say that I’m more of a winger, purely because my stats say that I’ve played a lot more games on the wing; I like beating players, getting down the line, goals, assists, trying to impact the game as much as possible.
Would you say that strengthening your goalscoring record is the one area of your game you’d most like to improve?
100%! Even last season to be honest, it’s always been a thing for me growing up: I just want to score goals – for myself and for the team. Now, I don’t mind assisting but one thing for me is always trying to get my goals up because at the end of the day, goals win you games and goals give you more opportunities. So for me it’s definitely an area I want to improve upon for myself and for the team – just to help as much as possible.
It’s a story that is still very much being written. ‘Football’s a harsh game’, claims Brown as he plays for a place back in the professional game. The road ahead is long, arduous; yet a rewarding sight when his potential is finally unlocked. There’s a terrific player shuttling up and down the blades of Whitehawk turf, seeking a passage to a land already explored. It will come, but for now just enjoy the stepovers, the speed and the good vibes. You never know when someone might come knocking.