For many, soccer is just for kids. It’s simple fun. For fans, it’s a religion. For those who play in the professional leagues, it’s the opportunity to become the best in the world. For me, the team I have joined is my job and has replaced several others that were more physically demanding while being far less rewarding than if I had worked as an artist on a very famous painting that could never be sold with me earning enough money so that I didn’t have to worry about working anymore.

When I joined the soccer team, it really made me feel like I belonged to the community. Many people had always said that, but I never understood what they meant until I actually joined one. The fact that the other athletes accepted me and encouraged me was something I had never experienced before.

I spend my days on the Hayasa soccer team. I also like to play rugby sometimes together with my friends and neighbors. Playing sports is something I enjoy a lot because it helps me to be more concentrated on school since I know that everything will be much easier after a hard workout. There are several sports we can play, and some people prefer one type of sport, for example, basketball or tennis. Other people even try to find new ways to combine two different types of sport. For instance, it’s not unusual to find someone who plays sprint football on weekends and then rows during weekdays. Even though it may look strange at first sight, they can cope well with both running on the streets and rowing strokes. I don’t see any problems with that approach, especially when sport becomes your hobby.

Hayasa’s soccer team trains hard. The team has a strong defense that keeps opponents from scoring. When they do get a shot on goal, the goalie is terrific at catching the ball. Hayasa’s striker can catch an opponent off-guard with his ability to score quickly.

Sometimes I scout the previous game’s opponent and report back to the coach to help him decide on a strategy for our next game. I usually watch a game from each opponent and take note of what works and what doesn’t. A striker needs to have good foot skills, but it is not uncommon for a defender to have better foot skills than even some of the best scorers. Many factors affect how successful you can be in any given play, but in general, it’s good to stay calm and think before you shoot. One way to keep your head in the game while playing is by analyzing video footage of other games, making you a more discerning player.

What I love most about the team is that they bond together as a family. They have each other’s backs on and off the field, so when they started talking about doing something big, I was stoked to get involved. The way they operate reminds me a lot of the Eagle Scouts — where you work together to improve your communities and give back — so for Hayasa being near the displacement camps in Mosul poses two solutions: either improve the camp or build something completely new from scratch. The first goal will help people; the second could provide massive benefits for years to come by improving an area that desperately needs it.

By Hayasa

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