#228 Jessua Rodríguez2018-10-03T16:08:01-04:00

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MY TEAM, MY OTHER FAMILY

#228 Jessua Rodríguez

“Soccer keeps me away from the bad path in our barrio. They tell me to try, and I say: No, because I’m a soccer player”

Chepina Hernandez / Astrid Hernández

Mariana Maneiro

Mariana Maneiro

Petare, Caracas

To me, soccer means love. I loved it as a child. My mum tells me I used to kick whatever I had in my way: cans, plastic bottles, anything! One day she told me “I found you a place in the sports center.” From that moment on, I haven’t stopped playing. My coach Máximo is like a father, he knows me since I was a kid, I am so grateful to him: he corrects me, guides me.

I feel passion whenever I step into the sports field. Running after the ball, doing passes. When a partner scores thanks to me, I hug him and we celebrate together. When I have a match and have to wake up at six in the morning, I’m already awake at five and can’t sleep anymore. I remember a match in which, with just a minute left, I kicked the ball, got it out of the center, scored and we won! I was the new kid in the team. You feel all kinds of emotions playing. Soccer is sadness and happiness at once; happiness is winning, when they give us the trophy and we raise it together as the team we are. Sadness comes when I try hard and still lose or don’t make it to the next round. I know that playing as a family is a big thing… We obviously have to win, but the most important thing is to play, taking care of each other.

I feel very committed to my team. To me, the most precious thing at play is the friendship with my mates. We respect each other, don’t swear, we love each other as a family. The team is every player’s second family. There are many children having a hard time here. They come to the field with a sad face, and you ask them “What’s the matter? How can I help?” We care for each other. If you need support, we’ll lend you a hand.

I’ve always liked helping people, especially children in need. I’ve also had tough times and got a helping hand. If I have a little piece of bread and see a hungry kid, I’ll give him half. Whatever I can share, I will. I want to contribute as long as I’m able to. If I could change anything, it’d be to have plenty of food, that it’s never short. It doesn’t matter if there’s no money, there has to be enough food. My mum always made me an arepa with butter and cheese, and coffee with milk or cocoa. It’s been a while since I ate chocolate now. Too expensive.

I live with my mum and my little brother. My dad left some years ago. He had issues with my mom, one day they fought, and he left. My mum is like a sister and an aunt to me, she’s my everything. She’s the one who supports me and tells me “C’mon, son, you can do it!”

To me, winning is succeeding on the field and helping at home. To help mum in everything I’m able to. I do the washing, keep everything in order, and if mum asks me to, I cook. I dropped school for a while when I was in first year to help her during a hard time. We had no money and we needed food. Now we’re better off and I enrolled again. I see myself as a soccer player or a doctor, I really like seeing a baby being born; I love the idea of helping him at birth.

In our slum, there are people supporting me and glad to see me succeed, but there are others who don’t. I mostly see guns where I live, people smoking dope… people with heads blown up with drugs. I see them and keep my distance. Soccer keeps me away from the bad path in our barrio. They tell me to try, and I say “No, because I’m a soccer player.” If I weren’t into it, I’d probably be smoking too, it’s very common. I take good care of my little brother and cheer him up to play soccer and stay away from vices. He and my cousins are my tiny mates, they play in other category. I teach them, tell them what’s right.

When I grow up, I don’t want to forget the goals, I want to keep scoring! I always want to have my mum present, and also that respect, the tolerance, the peace, the love for each other in every space, in and out of the field.

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