The neighborhood I’m from in Honduras is very dangerous. I lived on the island of Roatan and, while it is beautiful and surrounded by rich coral reefs, it also has a dark side.
A lot of the people in the community sell and use drugs, and teenagers often get involved in the drug trade at a young age. I always wanted to do something that was going to be positive for myself and my community because I didn't want to end up like other people being on drugs and leaving their futures behind.
My best friend growing up on the island was named Mando. Mando and I used to jump cars and play soccer together -- we were inseparable. At one point I joined the Football Club (FC) Kairos, and I didn’t see Mando as much because he stayed at home. He made some other friends, guys that did drugs like cocaine and smoked weed. Soon, Mando joined in too. Once he started smoking and doing drugs, I didn’t see him as much and it caused a rift in our relationship. I made a choice that I wanted to join soccer so I could forget about all the neighborhood’s problems. I just wanted a better future for myself.
I was sad to have lost my closest friend, but I still loved playing ball. I joined my first local soccer team when I was 13. It was so entertaining to be able to find something exciting and healthy for me and my friends to do; altogether we formed the Football Club (FC) Kairos. Our Coach was named Martin, and I was one of his favorite and most-talented players. Martin inspired us to push ourselves physically and wanted us to be successful. He used to make us run four miles, stretch, and do push-ups at every practice. It was the hardest I had ever worked to condition my body, but I became so much stronger. Martin helped me learn discipline and how to push myself through the pain. I learned that when you want to do something in life you sometimes go through true pain because you want something good to happen. Coach Martin had such a great impact on my community and my friends -- he always encouraged me to dedicate myself 100% and give everything I had to be successful at the sport.
FC Kairos became so successful that we made it to the Island championships. I was so nervous and put so much pressure on myself before the game. I was recovering from a head injury and had stitches on my forehead. I went to Estadio Julio Galindo with butterflies in my stomach and great hopes of a championship win. We were playing against Team Piratas and we actually knew some of the players pretty well, but today we were adversaries and only one team could bring home the trophy.
As we began, Team Piratas scored a goal on us pretty quickly and we started to get discouraged -- we knew we had to play aggressively without holding anything back if we were going to have any chance at winning this game. In the second half, Coach Martin called us in and boldly told us that we didn’t come this far to lose and that we needed to put every ounce of energy and talent we had on the field. Coach always knew what to say to fire us up.
We went out on the field and scored two goals within five minutes! We were feeling amazing and were able to prevent the Piratas from scoring any more goals. When we won, we dumped gallons of water on Coach Martin and celebrated all night with our new medals and trophy. After the game, I gave Mando a call to tell him even though we hadn’t spoken in a while. He congratulated me and it was nice to connect with him. I couldn’t shake the feeling that he could have played on the team with me and celebrated too had he not gotten involved in drugs. It made me realize how small choices at the moment can have long-lasting impacts. I felt blessed to have Coach Martin and my teammates in my life -- they’ve helped to shape me into the person I am today.
© Geovanny Bodden. All rights reserved. If you are interested in quoting this story, contact the national team through this website and we can put you in touch with the young person's teacher.