Ever since I was a kid growing up in the streets of Bariga, Lagos Nigeria, I’ve always liked playing football. Football in Nigeria was more like a tradition for my friends and I. It was a social event where future friends were made, girls sat around and watched, people socialized in football language. Even when it rained we still played football; It became an everyday thing for me. As I got older I started to realize that I was good at football because after every game people told me how skilled I was. By the time I was seven I started playing with older kids because playing with my age mates became boring for me. Sometimes the older kids would even argue about what team I should play for. By that age I started to take football very seriously, pointing out the mistakes I made in each game and correcting them. Football was the only thing I was not lazy in. At that age I began comparing myself to professional football players like Zinedine Zidane and Jay Jay Okocha. Fantasies about becoming a football star became dominant in my life. When I reached fourteen I entered a tournament at my school where classes played against each other, and at the end of the tournament the winning class got a trophy in their classroom. My class became the last class standing at the end of the tournament and this made me realize that I could end up playing professional football. A year later, I ended up coming to America, a place where football was not well known. So I moved from a place where football was a tradition for me to a place where soccer was nothing. By the time I was a senior in high school I first heard about the soccer tryouts and decided to go. I made the team and my fantasies and dreams about being a football star came back to life after scoring two goals in my first game. I had already become a starter for my team and we ended up winning the Southern Conference title. After graduation I went to the UNCG soccer camp. One of the coaches from South Africa liked the way I played and invited me to try out for the team. Immediately I realized this would be a big step for my football career. During the summer, I started getting prepared for the tryout, playing in different tournaments at Bryan Park and Smith Field. Then one night as I was playing, I twisted my knee and it resulted in a meniscus tear on my left knee. It is not a very serious injury but it was big enough to prevent me from playing in competitive leagues. Since I could not afford surgery and my parents did not understand my relationship with football, I skipped the tryouts. By the time I became a Sophomore in college, I began to think maybe I was not meant to be a football star or I would not be able to handle the lifestyle of one. Although I’ve come to realize that in reality I would never be a football star, I still believe in the game. The game where different types of people from different backgrounds, cultures, upbringings, ethnicities, races, and countries from all over the world come together to share one belief and communicate in one language, football.
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