The Adventure of a Soccer Boy

Macy Li, 5th Grade

About half a century ago in the northeastern region of China where most people were yet to be lifted from poverty, there was a young boy who fought his hunger with soccer. The enjoyment from the sport helped him forget the usual pain of his empty stomach. From countless hours of practicing, he became one of the top players in the city. He soon had a dream to join the national team and compete in the FIFA world cup, but his life took a surprising turn when he was 11 years old. His family moved back to their remote hometown village. The soccer boy screamed and writhed as he was dragged away from the place he loved.

As the soccer boy sat grouchily in the impoverished village, a spark suddenly went off in his head. He ran to the packaged boxes, rummaging through them until his fingers lay upon his beloved soccer ball. Realizing his love once again, he set off into the village, knocking on doors and asking the children to join his soccer club. Soon, the soccer boy had a team. They practiced in the scorching sun, they practiced in the drizzling rain, and they practiced in the falling snow. They practiced even until their feet were covered in callouses and scratches. With this hard work and persistence, the soccer team soon earned fame, and many teams from different cities came to compete. But this penchant was not everything it was only a step to his happiness — he was able to turn a poor village where he had no friends into a famous soccer-playing town. With this persistence, he studied hard and became one of the best students in school. He had grown from a young boy that loved to play soccer barefoot in the dirt into a well-rounded man with new experiences. He had come from a poor village to one of the best economic cities, Shanghai. The soccer boy was now living a life that was admired—but he did not stop there. He and his wife moved to America for more opportunities and an experience that included exposure to more people.

Coming to America was difficult, even though he thought he was prepared for these difficulties—the challenges were far beyond his expectations. He barely spoke the language, but managed to persist through it with his love for soccer pushing him forward. He came home from class every day with a recording of the lesson, and played it many times in order to understand it. He would always return to his room under the dim light to study after rocking his baby to sleep. His hard work payed off when he earned his PhD within three years and was offered a good job opportunity.

Even today, the man is still taking on new challenges. He is like a little fish—one that started in a little pond, who swam into a stream, who swam into a lake, and finally…is ready to swim into the ocean. His happiness is always motivating him to go even higher. Now, he is beginning his own startup in Silicon Valley. Though this man never got to achieve his dream, his passion never left him. He is still participating in local soccer teams as well as fostering and promoting soccer clubs.

This hard-working soccer boy is my father, the one that motivates me through my challenges and is my role model. When I transferred three schools in second grade, I remembered his courage to move from a big city to his remote hometown, from Shanghai to America, from the eastern region of the U.S. to the western area. When I broke my leg, his persistence when practicing soccer everyday soothes me. When I find difficulties in my life, thinking of him always taking on audacious challenges pops into my mind. He is a man that possesses a strong Olympic spirit. I would like to design him a gold medal and hang it onto his neck myself. To him I would say, “I love you, Dad. To me, you are always a winner.”