I learned all about life with a ball at my feet—Ronaldinho
I’ve always had a ball at my feet since I was born it seems. I remember kicking balls since I was very young. During the times when my parents would confiscate my football for playing in the house with it, I would just simply switch to kicking other smaller balls like tennis balls or small little bouncy balls or even balloons.
So, it is a fair statement to say that I’ve probably had a ball at my feet for my whole life up to this point. And there’s a lot I’ve learned from it; maybe not everything about life, but still a whole lot of lessons I would say. So, here’s a new series of articles/blog posts since the last series titled Life Lessons/Things I Learnt After Completing High School ended.
My football looking great here 😀
#1. Football creates unity
For a large part of my life, I would spend almost every Saturday at a nearby recreational park just a kilometer or two away from my house. There, on a field, which was sometimes a little too shabby with grass that was sometimes too long or muddy patches after a downpour, I played football with a group of adults which consisted of Malay, Indian and Chinese adults and a few teenagers.
The first time I joined the group, I was a little shy to approach them as they were initially strangers to me and most of them were from a different race. I feared being rejected by them.
But, after convincing myself that rejection was something that I could live with, I thickened my skin, put a bright smile on my face, went towards the nearest adult—a Malay man in his mid-forties or mid-fifties— and asked him if I could join the group.
It was as simple as saying, “Uncle, boleh (can I) join?”. And he said yes. He allocated me to one of the teams, I introduced myself to some of the team members and then started playing.
And this has been one of the most beautiful experiences that I’ve learned from about playing football, especially in a multi-racial country like Malaysia: People from all races and differing age groups can just come together to enjoy playing the beautiful game.
This has also helped me to forgo all prejudices and biases I had previously had about other races. Now, whenever I go to a new field, court or neighborhood, and I’m wearing my kit and my shoes, I’m not afraid of just going ahead and ask, “hey, can I join?” because no matter what race, creed or age group you are from, when you’re playing football, it doesn’t matter.
You’re always going to be a “bro”, a “boy” (what the adults sometimes call the younger ones like me), a teammate, or someone from the opposing team. That’s it.
How have you experienced unity in Malaysia or your own country? What prejudices and biases do you have about people from other races? What can you do to get rid of them?
Thank you for reading.