From Karen refugee camp to a professional contract with Sheffield United


Kler Heh is a person worth rooting for, unless of course your club is coming up against him.

The resettled Karen refugee recently earned his first professional contract with Sheffield United, less than a decade after he was practicing his soccer outside the border of Myanmar.

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It’s a remarkable story, told here by Reuters, of how the now-18-year-old Heh moved through the soccer world and into Nigel Pearson’s plans. He’s expected to play for the U-21s this year.

From Reuters:

Born in the refugee camp, he and his family of ethnic Karens, a minority group who have faced oppression in Myanmar, had already failed with their attempts to move to Australiaand seemed destined never to escape the depressing camp environment.

“You can’t really get out, nobody has a passport to go into Thailand and go out like a normal human would,” Kler explained.

But in 2006, a small group from the camp, including Kler and five family members, were resettled in Sheffield as part of the United Nations Gateway Protection Programme.

From there, Heh joined the Football Unites Racism Divides group, which also helped Kyle Walker get a look from Sheffield United. Now he’ll try to catch on with the big club in the pursuit of his Premier League dreams.

An odd and difficult aside: Heh has a British passport but doesn’t know if he’ll be able to represent Myanmar nor Thailand. The Karen people have been repressed in the region, and the politics could be a problem. Something tells us, though, that if his talent is high enough, it’s the sort of thing that can overcome those obstacles.