Dear Football,

Dear Football! Thank you for everything! I can’t remember the first time I started kicking a ball, but you’ve been the love of my life for as long as I can remember. Coming to New Zealand and being the new kid at school, I was lost and I didn’t know where I would fit in. Then one day, on a Friday lunch time as I was strolling around school hopelessly trying to find some new friends to play with… and then you rolled towards my left foot. I look up and saw a bunch of kids asking me to kick the ball back and to join them. I took one look down and smiled at you and I kicked you as hard as I could out of excitement. From that day on my life changed, you’ve picked me up and loved me when I thought no one would.  Everything I became was because of you, I was and will always be your number one fan.

But lately, I haven’t been spending time with you and I’m sorry. I remember during those primary school days every morning tea and lunch break I would be kicking you around and dribbling past every defender that came my way. I was so in love with you that at the age of nine I created a football tournament within the school to share the love of the game I had with everyone. Everyone just saw it as a sport, but you were more than that. You were a sense of belonging to me, you brought everyone together to have fun and work together. Thanks to you I truly understood the value of hard work, every day I’ve always tried to improve myself as a person and as a player. You taught me to always express myself and not to be afraid to put myself out there. You taught me that there is no such thing as a self-made man, you taught me that to reach my goals I will need the help of my team mates.

I played through sweat, tears and pain not just because I accepted challenge, but because you called out to me and I wanted to do everything for you because you’ve made feel so alive. And that’s what you do when someone makes you feel like that. All the bruises and broken windows were worth it because I got to be with you. All the nagging I would get from my parents when I got mud in the house was worth it. I gave my all to you because of how I loved you and I wanted others to experience the joy you’ve given me. You asked for my grind and I gave you my heart and soul.

I’ve lived in different countries, learnt different languages and experienced different cultures but regardless of where I’ve been… you were the common language. Just one word… Football, it brings a whole community together, a whole country and the whole world. Wherever I went with you, people shared my common love for you. You’ve changed so many peoples’ lives and you’ve changed mine. You’ve given me friends that I will cherish forever, you’ve given me victories that I will reminisce on and you’ve given me lessons that I will learn from.

 I know I’ve been so fixated on other things and that I haven’t had time for you, that wasn’t usually the case. I used to spend most of with you, I’ve put aside homework for you. You’ve made me feel so alive and you still do. But I am sorry, as I grew up, I could not love you excessively like I used too. There will be a time when I must move onto the next chapter of my life. But whatever I do next in life, you’ll always be in my heart and I will always have the same love as I did when I first met you. You more than just a sport, you’re a guardian angel in disguise and I will always be thankful for what you’ve given me.

Written by Gabriel Lucman