My Life So Far...

By Uzu Smith • December 17, 2014

Hello, my name is Uzu. I came across this recently and i decided to share my story. I started playing soccer as early as i can remember, From the house kicking the ball around breaking stuffs (got punished for that), i took it to the streets which will always be one of my best childhood moments. I do not know how many got a chance to play street soccer but those who know,understand what am talking about. The crowd and atmosphere is incredible especially when you pull off a piece of skill everyone goes crazy. When you score an awesome goal everybody rushes to embrace you,chatting your name. I can not describe the feeling well enough and all that i got to experience. I remember their was a time i got so popular little kids chanted my name when they see me calling me name's like 'Milan' (i wear the jersey always when i play because AC Milan was my favourite team) or 'Rasengan' because of the force when i shoot the ball ,it was always a nice feeling because i knew i was appreciated. The years went by and i was still as awesome as ever but it was all over because of one stupid neighbour that moved in, he warned me a couple of times to stop because the ball was entering his garden but who was he was stop us from having fun. The last day i played street soccer was one to remember,we were up against our biggest rivals,they lived in the same area so it was a big deal. Just like Inter and Ac milan or Man United and Man City, The game was that big, the game went on i scored the first goal the crowd went crazy because it was our home ground, my street to be exact so we were expected to win at all cost. The pressure was so much because everyone had their eye's on me and i was being closed down quickly because they were well aware of what i could do with the ball. Later on they equalized and it hurt but we continued,i wasn't going to give up. Soon frustration started creeping in among the two side's, Dirty tackles,the bad side of street soccer. It all came to an end when a long ball was played and it hit my stupid neighbour's wife on her bum who was watering her garden at that time and all hell broke loose she started blaming me even though i was clearly innocent,everyone knew it but she still continued after she was done, we continued but the intensity was gone. Soon later her husband showed up and i told everyone to leave because it was not going to be funny. Before he could park she went over to tell him what happened. The man only focused on me,i could see the rage in his eye's. So i ran away because i knew he could not catch me. He went on rampage chasing other kids away still in search to find me but he couldn't. I returned home later when everything had died off,at least that's what i thought. But not the man who went as far as calling the police,i was quite shocked, he said to the police man pointing at me "This is the boy causing me trouble",and i think the police officer was as surprised as me. He politely asked me to call my parents, which i did and my parents where surprised also. We went to the station everything was quickly resolved but ultimately i was told never to play soccer on the street again,it hurt badly. I mean it was like a tradition,many came from different area's to play on my street not that they didn't have somewhere to play in their area,their was just something special about my street that always brought massive crowd. But it was all over and soon i broke the news to the people around and the sad expression they gave me never seemed to stop. They were as hurt as i was but we didn't stop we went to a field nearby to play but it was still never the same as the streets. Soon after people stopped showing up,no one was interested again only a few. It was only in school i had a chance to play,i remember playing from the beginning to the last minute,it was fun also especially when the whole school watches and i hardly went unnoticed,soon people Started noticing me and i was quite popular in school. Even with the popularity i wasn't still satisfied so i decided to go and join the school sprinting team, their was a time they need new recruits so i decided to give i a try. It was like trials and quite a number of students showed up. It began and i was being paired with the toughest group mainly because of my height i was scared but at the same time i didn't want to loose. So when they said GO!!! I ran as hard as i could,in the first 20 metres nothing,no one was ahead of anyone then i knew that i had a chance so i pushed on and it worked, i came first leaving them way behind. I was quite shocked but not as much as the sports master who admitted that three of the runners out of the five represented the school and i just left them for dust. I passed the trials instantly and it felt good particularly because one of the sprinters mocked me because of my slim non athletic frame and i proved him wrong. From their on i represented the school in both soccer and sprinting.

Sooner later i got tired of sitting all day playing video games especially during holiday's,so one day i sold my bicycle and i used the money to buy a pair of boots and registered in a local team nearby. The first few weeks was quite strange, i was still accustomed to street soccer so it took me time to adapt,but within a month i understood quite frankly. I played mainly as a right fullback because of Ignazio Abate who also plays at the position for AC Milan,i admired him a lot, he had an unhuman like pace,stamina,his work rate was incredible and he was a great professional. He was certainly one of my favourite players at that time that's why i wanted to be like him. There was one very day i will never forget, before we began training the coach walked up to me and gave me the simplest instruction "When you get the ball run,i want to see you use your speed" , And that was all. One of my opponent over heard mainly a defender and he started making silly remarks like "Do you think you can get past me " , "Don't even try" , many other stuffs. But i understood it was only mind games yet i was still angry for the fact he was looking down on me. So i channeled that rage to my feet with the mind set that i was going to prove him wrong. The training began, the first time i got the ball i didn't even waste anytime i started running. I could see him already smiling but he didn't know what was coming for him. I was playing at the right wing while he was play as a left back, so everything was just perfect. When i got close, i hit the ball abit ahead because he wanted to use his physical advantage but i already knew that. When i did that, i noticed he was already at his top speed, but i was still accelerating so i knew i was faster. I hit the ball way further the second time, and blew past him completely already cutting inside the penalty area he pulled me down. He couldn't keep up and that was my first attempt, "I like that" said my coach and that gave me more morale. Practically what i did through out was to out pace him and he still had to bring me down i couple of times until he finally gave up and switched positions. I gave him a cooky smile, at least he deserved that. After training the coach was impressed and told me to keep it up. Since then this man exploited my speed to all limits, always feeding me long balls most of them were overly weighed just to test my limits and i didn't disappoint him i got most of them. Although at times it was annoying but i was worth it. One day, i decided to add another dimension to my style of play. I didn't want to just be one of those players who was known for just speed, so i decided to add dribbling. At that time my favourite dribbler was Zlatan Ibrahimovic and i also liked C.Ronaldo so i always observed their movement when they played and many other good dribblers. I didn't copy exactly what they did,i tried to let it come naturally and without planning it comes like a spark and i just go with the flow. I saw results i became different, i was a defender who ran like a sprinter, attacked like a winger and dribbled like one. I played for about 2 years for the local team until my uncle (Mr. Henry) told me to join his academy he was setting up. I couldn't resist because the plans laid down was amazing. Not that i wasn't loyal to my former team it was just time to move on because nothing was happening. In fact the team was regressing at a rapid rate, many players went,training became unattractive and boring so i left.

Even though it was my uncle that owned the academy i wasn't given any special treatment i went through trails like everyone else and i got to experience another level of soccer. In trails everyone is fighting for themselves, playing to impress, no one joked, i did my part, i never complained after all i was still going to make the team. But it wasn't easy at all, for anybody generally. The trails starts from 8a.m to 6p.m, for 2 weeks and the crowd increased everyday. I made the team as expected but it wasn't easy for me because the players were a lot older,stronger,some even faster than me. Not that they were better than me,they were just on another level and my uncle saw that. This man drove me crazy, always shouting my name constantly, i had to get every drill right, after training he tells me all my mistakes and corrects me,it's usually worse after any match. It was as if i was learning football all over again, he was constantly on my neck for any mistake,i mean ANY mistake. It was not easy at all,sometimes i felt useless like i couldn't do it anymore but i wasn't going to give up that easily so i tell myself i could do it and make it. He trained us like we were soldiers,no training session was easy. It got so hard that everyone became scared of what he had planned. He was a tough man, you can see that from his physique quite built and intimidating to anyone, his all about respect and discipline so you dare not misbehave. He impacted a lot of things to us and he built a fantastic team. I remember our first match we won 10-0, we beat a lot of teams and became the most popular academy around. During all those time's i saw myself grow into a better player than i was before and all the shouting finally paid off through hard work and training. Soon i discovered my true flair "the defender that run's like a sprinter,attacks like a winger and dribbles like one". Especially the dribbling aspect, i remember a time when we were asked to have fun in training so everyone was free to do what they liked with the ball, the skillful players were dominating so i decided to show them have got some tricks too, i did some 'stepovers', 'body feints' and many combinations. Everyone was surprised i could do those things,after training my uncle was so impressed he kept on talking about it even during team talk he still brought it up and it felt good no doubt. Soon after he changed my role from the right fullback position to right wing attack so i could use my dribbling skills more often and to add yet another dimension again to my game and it worked,sometimes my team mates get confused on my actual role because of that.

Fast forward to 2 years plus i was playing against one of the biggest academies in the state, played in the national stadium so it was really special and i felt proud of myself on how far have come. And one of my last training days was memorable, it was a 11 aside training match but i was different from others because throughout my whole time no player has being able to understand me fully expect for one player Raymond,it was like he studied me and knows the kind of balls to feed me because i like to attack and i did that perfectly and if something went wrong he calls me over and explains certain things to me, he was a senior player so i had respect for him.Above all i enjoyed the training and was fully satisfied, i couldn't ask for more. I remember after training their was this new guy who sat close to me as we were changing,he was like ''nice play'' , i what like "what" i heard what he said but i wanted to be sure, he said it again "nice play", "you had a nice game" ,i said "thank you" then asked about the boots i wore,he wanted to keep the conversation going. But still i was happy about his remarks,its not as if i want to be praised every single time but i like to be acknowledged for my effort sometimes.Most of my team mates hardly do that only a few,it was a lot worse at first because they saw me as the guy who was fortunate because of my unkle owned the academy so i wasn't given any credit, everyone had their own pride,so it meant a lot as he told me that. After all this one would expect everything to go fine and i'l end up in a good club or academy aboard but no that wasn't the case because of just one problem my father. My father is the type of man who believes education comes first and nothing else and for me that's a problem. I have no problem going to school or anything but i love soccer and for me that comes first. I tried convincing him that its what i want, i explained why i want to play and everything but he just pretends to understand then starts telling me the same old stuff about education. I tried everything to convince my father, i called some of his close friends to help,family friends,relatives, even my grand mother but no he wouldn't listening. I was hurt that my own father wouldn't allow me to do what i loved the most and this made me angry. Day by day the anger increased, he kept telling me about extending my education because i finished secondary school quite early, and when i got a chance to enter a university due to a family friend working there,their was no stopping my father. Sometimes i wondered why he is doing all this, why doesn't he just understand that i love soccer, until one day i over heard him talking to my darling mother about how i would have just wasted my time playing soccer. To put it in short he thinks am weak, am not tough enough to play, and wouldn't make it as a footballer and he went on blabbing that he can finally rest now that am going to school. So basically going for training as being a waste of time for him. I admit i hurt me more than anything,those words coming out of my own father,it was sad. Some days later when it was almost time for me to leave my mum came to encourage me not to give up on playing and i should stay focused. It wasn't easy for her about me leaving, right from day one she has always supported me, anytime am injured she makes sure i get better on time, if i don't go for training she's always the first to ask why,sometimes she buys sports outfits for me,she really understood i loved the game. The same for my unkle,he was sad about me leaving but he told me "i know how you feel,be strong" and not to give up, that he'll make something happen and i know he will do that. It's not easy for him because he practically runs the academy on his own so a lot is on his head and i'll forever be thankful for what he has done for me all the players.

Currently am already in school but i still train everyday either morning or night i always find time,i like it in the morning or afternoon because the sun heats up my body faster and i push myself more also because of the sun takes a lot of energy. It's practically punishment but that's the only way i can stay fit. There was a time an old man offered me water because he felt sorry for me but i politely rejected it and from time to time he cheers me up to keep going. Even some little kids who follow me up to some point and wait for me to finish,each time i pass they say "Sorry sir", find it funny yet still motivating. My mum and unkle still call to check on me, even my team mates at times. And its all this that keeps me going everyday because i certainly can't just relax and wait for something to magically happen if i do that the only thing that will happen is the frustration that will eat me up because of all this thats happening to me and i'll end up like some of my friends who had the same dreams but fell off because of school and i won't let that happen to me,i want to prove my father wrong and i am going to do it. This story goes out to many who are going through something similar to this or even worse but do not give up,if your told you are not good enough work hard to prove them wrong no matter how hard it is do not give up because on day it will pay off. If you result to drinking or smoking away your life its never too late to stop,if you do not, never go down that road because sometimes the only thing that limits you is yourself, so be strong,be the change the world wants to see and one day your dreams will come true,be it a footballer,dancer,musician,artist i mean profession do not give up on your dreams because even till now am still looked down upon by many but i wont back down because if i do that, they will win and i can not allow that and you shouldn't. I was told i couldn't play but i worked hard to prove them wrong. I do not even see myself as a talented player or the next Messi or Ronaldo, i am the next "Me", am going to create a name for myself because i have a big heart to do it,that's why i do not consider myself as a talented player. Their are a lot of talented players who had the world at their feet but ended their own career because they couldn't stay focused and that's why it takes a lot more than just "talent" if you do not have a big heart for what you love, you might end up loosing it and it will never come back. Thank you for your time and for reading this.

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