If Only You Could!

How many times have you complained about a bad pass?

How many times did you use an insult for being confused? And for the missed penalties?

The poorly kicked corner?For having lost? And for having a draw?

How many times did you get annoyed at training?

The coach is crazy! The warm-up is very long! The possession drill is very short! How fit does he want us to be, to eat well, to take care of ourselves? The field is too hard or maybe very too soft!

Excuses such as … It’s too far away. I have no money to go by taxi. The bus passes five blocks away and not in front of the house! The coach only gives me 10 minutes to play, or I play a lot! I’m tired! I do not play in my position! He does not put on the lineup. The coach does not like the skilled but likes the most sacrificed. We do not have cones. We do not have fences. I do not have elastics to mark the handle. The grass is very high or very short. It has bare areas. We do not have good changing rooms, etc. And I can not give my best!

“Hey, brother! Can I tell you something? YES!

Kibera, Nairobi is one of the largest unprivileged villages in the world. Located in Kenya, in a deserted field. It was like a huge tennis court, a deflated ball, a chubby 9-year-old boy without football boots. He dodges a stone that we used as makeshift cones and returned me precisely two volleys with both feet!

In Arusha, Tanzania. Out there was a small, remote school found amongst trees, wells and stones. One hundred students played for two hours, all against all, without stopping, without limits, without rules! Did they have football materials? Yes, a single leather ball, a couple of smiling volunteers and aesthetic enjoyment of the game.

In Moshi, at the foot of a waterfall, and among animals, a group of children- all under 12 years old – played barefoot. Buried in the mud, with a machete in hand, they completed the session of technique, with enthusiasm and motivation. It was the first time they had touched a ball- usually, their toys are knives, and the daily game is cutting weeds, herbs and guiding cattle.

In Lushoto, two children spent their time playing a game of Checkers: The board drawn on a piece of glass, and the two coloured made with Sprite and Coca-Cola caps. I asked them If they had a ball. One tells me: “Yes, at home! He brought back a sock full of papers, cotton, pieces of foam and rubber. This ball did not prevent us from playing one vs one learning how to take care of the ball using the body! (Learning how to handle the ball)!

If only close your eyes and feel the burning on the sole of your foot from the desert.
If only you could feel the pain of your instep after having finished playing countless times.
If only you could imagine what it is like to see your father come home, empty-handed, and go train without enough food.
If only you could see the sacrifice of a mother walking barefoot 17 km to take her son to train.
If only you could understand that we are lucky with little, that we are lucky to have friends, a pair of boots, a ball, a hardworking dad, a struggling mum.
If only you could appreciate the field where you train having grass, that your team has shirts, that you have a rooftop over your head, and a plate of food at the end of the day.

In football, as in life, it is about living and valuing what we have and never surrendering. Until the last minute – WE DREAM!

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