How the game is more than a passion by: Malicka Barro

Coming from a background where soccer is a tradition, I fell in love with this sport at a early age. I remember the first soccer game I experienced, my country, the Ivory Coast was facing Cameroon. That game started my passion and love for soccer because I saw all of the supporters from both teams becoming one. One big mass that showed the magic of soccer, which is bringing people together and making joy out of a sport. My ambition for soccer grew more and more every day, but I was from a country where we were not really exposed to sports.  In contrast, that didn’t reduce my love for the sport because I lived for soccer and even played with the boys from my neighborhood.

On June 16th 2011, I received news from my father that we were moving to the United States of America for his new job that he had found. I told myself  “Hey let’s try this…America is the land where anything is possible. Right?” And just like that I was coming to an unknown country, but with a strong faith and high hopes. When I came to the United States, I was amazed by the fact that girls were just into soccer just as much as the boys! The transition to the U.S at was hard for me because I wasn’t able to speak the English as well as the others around me, so overall, it was difficult to make friends, especially with the girls who played soccer that I wanted to be friends with.  During gym class, I’d would play footsies with the other kids and show my talents, and somehow felt free and felt understood by them even though I could not speak English that well.

Months past by, and  I decide to try out for the soccer travel team in my town. It was a great travel team and was known to have amazing female players. I have to say that I that time my ego was probably a big handicap for me. I was so ambitious, ready to fight to join the team.  I convinced myself that I was going to make the team. The day finally comes for tryouts, and the expectations and qualifications were high, I felt it in my heart. There were butterflies in my stomach, I felt scared for the first time about trying something new.   The coaches were looking for skills such as trapping the ball, controlling, dribbling, and taking good shots. The one that scared me the most was conditioning. In order to stand out I had to at least be able not to gasp for air in the first fifteen minutes of the tryouts. There were about 50 girls trying out for the team, so my characteristics for this team have to fulfill their expectations. We started to run lapses and I quickly felt my lungs not working, my heart  started to beat really fast, and my legs were getting heavy which made it hard for me to pick them and run.

I quickly realized that I was getting behind the other girls. Then, came the second part which was going on the field and showing our skills. I was doing well at dribbling, passing, and controlling the ball until I had to take a shot and then came the worst nightmare of my life. I hit the ball but it barely left the ground. My eye was twitching, my heart stopped for a minute, and I felt tears coming in my eyes. I tried again, but this time it went over the goal. I just experienced failure for the first time in my life. It was not just a regular failure to me, it was a failure at something that I had a passion for. I did not make the team, and I felt hatred for letting myself down. During that period of time, I realized that I had to slow down my ego, and that it did not align with my qualities. I then decided to ameliorate my skills and my physical shape in terms of conditioning. The conditioning was pushing me to improved and better, I was happy, and that’s all that mattered to me at that point. I started to run every day after I was done with homework. I would spend hours and hours practicing my shots and technical skills. Day after day I kept on pushing myself because I wanted to prove that I could get better if I put in the right amount of work into whatever I decide to do. Three months later my family moved and I decided to try out for my new town’s girls soccer travel team. The day of,  my feelings of butterflies came to my stomach, feeling nervous and anxious. My hands started to sweat, I felt my stomach tying little knots in itself, and my feet were numb. I started running harder and faster than I ever did during the conditioning step.

On the field, my first touches were on point and my shots were not perfect but were good enough. I miss the first one but luckily it left the ground, then I made the second shot. I might have only made one but those two shots were enough to make me feel like I accomplished and made a progress in my way of shooting after what happened with the previous tryouts. I finally made the team and felt the joy that I experienced during the Ivory Coast vs Cameroon. What I learned from this experience is sometimes failure can be a good thing because it makes you stronger. The solution to failure is not to blame yourself but to get up, work on your flaws and most importantly never give up on what you love because that love is forever yours. My love for soccer was worth the fight because it was making me happy and because of that I experienced failure and that same love helped me go through it and learn my lesson. I guess the saying, “What doesn’t not kill you makes you stronger” really relates to me and I take it personal.

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