The Language of Soccer

Takuya - Briarcliff Manor, New York
Entered on June 9, 2011

Age Group: Under 18
Themes: immigrant, sports
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I still remember how I felt when my parents told me we were moving. The tears of uncertainty and fear were pouring down my face as I gasped for air. As a seven-year-old, the move to America felt like the end of the world, and all I could do was cry until I was too exhausted to cry any longer. I didn’t know a word of English, and my knowledge of the people and culture only extended to the common American stereotypes. And, though I couldn’t communicate a single idea or thought when I arrived, the sport of soccer welcomed me with open arms.

My first experience in America was a local soccer camp, in which my parents had registered me to try to get as acclimated as possible before the school year started. The counselors knew I couldn’t speak English, so they resorted to hand gestures to communicate. A far more effective method of communication, however, was the universal language of soccer. Once we were on the field, words were not needed, and the fear and the loneliness I felt in a radically different nation and culture faded into the joyful yells of kids playing soccer. I knew after those few days at soccer camp that I was going to be alright in this new environment.

The cliche of the language of sport and the universal connection it provides holds absolutely true in my case. In a time where I felt lonely and helpless, the simple game of soccer allowed me to interact and make friends. I was so different from those kids at the camp yet the connection made during our games of soccer had opened up a world of similarities and friendship.

I believe in the connection that is made during these type of experiences, when words are not necessary and a simple activity like soccer can bring people together. Every day I see these bonds and friendships being made, and in our world where we often hear of acts of hatred and anger, this gives me faith in people and our society.