Francesco's comeback thanks to Sport for All
Francesco: “I used to live in a bubble. The bubble was everything that oppressed me, the difficulty of being uncoordinated, the struggle of not being able to score goals, some sorrows that I had. My teammates, great motivators, were my nails: they tried to burst this bubble and pull me out for the best. They succeeded, and I’m truly happy about it!”
Francesco discovered that he could be a soccer player at the age of 16. Because the limit was not him, but the non-inclusive environments that hadn’t welcomed him in the past.
Francesco is an intelligent, cheerful, open-hearted boy. The consequences of dyspraxia limit him in many activities, which often makes him feel frustrated, ever since he was little. The negative experiences in non-inclusive sports environments did the rest. At 16, Francesco categorically believed that he was incapable of playing soccer, and he was certain that he couldn’t be part of any team.
“He agreed because I insisted,” his tutor Titty tells us. “After spending so many afternoons alone with the ball, he finally gave in, saying, ‘I’ll do it, Titty, but it will be a failure. I’m only trying because you believe in me.'”
Two years have passed since then. At US Santos 1948, to his enormous surprise, Francesco discovered many things: he found out that he is entitled to respect, motivation, and support during difficult times from a team of peers and a coach who also has important sports goals to achieve. He learned that it’s okay to make mistakes and try again, even a hundred times, without ever being judged. Today, Francesco is part of a team of eighteen-year-olds like him. He enjoys himself and feels good with them. He has scored his first goals and played his first matches.
This experience has not only changed his approach to sports; it has changed Francesco as a person. It has boosted his self-esteem, his confidence in his abilities, and his willingness to challenge himself. Succeeding is within his reach: we knew it before, and now Francesco knows it too.