It was the summer after sixth grade and I was excited about football signups. I woke up at about 8 am just to run to my parents’ room to tell them that we were going to be late for the sign-up. I kept pulling on their blankets and jumping on the bed so they would wake up but nothing seemed to work. After a couple of minutes of trying to wake them up, my dad finally woke up and broke the news to me. He told me that I would not be playing football this year. At first, I thought he was just joking because that is the type of person that my dad is. But, once I heard him say it again I knew this was not a joke. He had this specific tone in his voice that I only hear when he is serious. When I heard that voice I knew that there was nothing that could be done. I did not even bother to argue and left the room. I lay on my bed with the thought that everything I worked for was for nothing. All those times when I forced myself to get out of bed to go for a run. All those times when I forced myself to do at least five more reps. All for nothing. I had been playing football ever since I could remember. I grew up playing football on my front lawn with my neighbors. Every once in a while my brothers and those same neighbors would come together to play football again.
I was stuck in this frustration for a couple of days until I eventually just stopped caring. I felt this way for about a week. Then I realized that every minute I spent complaining and wishing that I could play football could be another minute spent working for next year. As the days went by, I slowly regained back my motivation. I was finally starting to realize the opportunity that I had. I had the chance to work hard for next year. I thought of it as taking one step back to take two steps forward. This experience is something that I will never forget and will always remember as a valuable lesson. I am nearing the end of my eighth-grade year and I am working just as hard to get ready for my freshman year. I want to make sure that when I step on the field, I am ready for any challenge that can occur.
© Mohammad Shehadeh. 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.