“If football has taught me anything, it is that you can overcome anything if, and only if, you love something hard enough.”
Being an athlete is not an easy task, make no mistake about it. The spark of fame that we see on television and on social media is negligible, compared to what happens outside of the field, on the training ground, at home. No athlete is born a champion. Success is not accidental. It does not come overnight; success is the result of hours, days, weeks, months and years of hard work, determination, blood, sweat and tears of heartbreak and joy.
I have been playing football since I was two years old when my dad first put a ball in front of me and told me to kick it. After that, I joined a football academy at the age of 11. Two years later, I was named captain of the Lebanese U-14 then U-16 football national team. Finally, five years later, I signed my first professional contract, a 4-year contract for a 1st division club in Lebanon.
I was finally living the dream. The dream I wish would never end. The dream that every young football fan dreams of achieving one day: playing championship games, representing your country, wearing the captain’s armband, wearing your club’s jersey with your name and number printed on your back. Of course, trophies and medals were won along the way but that joy was nothing in comparison to what it actually felt to play football at a higher level than the majority of the world population.
People often ask why I love football so much. I reply by showing them this.
“I learned that it is Faith that decides whether something will happen or not.”
The important lesson to understand out of this short story is not that everyone can become an athlete, or a musician, or an actor or whatever. Sadly, the required attributes for these positions are not given to everyone. This actually reminds me of what Anton Ego said in the movie Ratatouille:
“Not everyone can become an artist, but an artist can come from anywhere.”
In my opinion, the most important key to success is to actually do what you love. We spend so much time envying athletes, famous singers and businessmen that we lose sight of what is actually important. We always say that the key to success lies in the fact of working hard towards that goal. My question in that case would be: How can we become successful at something if it is not what we love more than we love ourselves?
When I look at my football career, I always remember what one coach from Romania told me: “Football is a beautiful game, but if you want to pursue a professional career, it has to become the love of your life. There will be days you will be so mad at a game that you will curse Heaven and Hell because of her. However, the next day, you will get up and come back to her, because you love her so much that you cannot stay mad at her. Now, is football the love of your life?”
That anecdote changed the way I look at football, and that is how I finally understood that football was my greatest passion. Sure, I enjoy writing and singing and playing some good music on my guitar, but football is where I learned everything about life.
It was through playing football that I got knocked down more times than I can count, and yet always got back up.
It was through playing football that I understood what it meant to keep hope that things will get better in the end and if they don’t, then it is not the end.
It was through playing that I understood what it meant to sometimes overcome your abilities beyond human reason.
It was through playing football that I understood that I am never in times of weakness and hardship. My teammates, who became my family, always had my back and I theirs.
It was through playing football that I understood what it meant that motivation gets you started, but commitment and determination will keep you going when you have lost all motivation to keep going.
“Never give up on something you cannot go a day without thinking about.”
The most important lesson I learned in football was that if you want to be successful, it is important not to do what you love, but what you are destined to do: your greatest passion. Once you find what you are truly destined to do, nothing and no one could ever stop, because you love that thing you are doing more than anything. Just the simple thought of it makes you happy. It makes you feel whole. It pushes you to become someone better. Find that passion inside you, and never let it go.
My passion is football. What is yours?