Life Without a Goal

From a young age, I knew that sports were going to be important in my life. No matter what the activity was, I wanted to learn and develop as an athlete. I tried it all: ball and mitt in hand, ready position on the starting line, hockey stick on a rink, soccer ball at my feet… all of them brought joy. However, even though I loved all sports, it did not take long before I found “the” sport that would soon give purpose to my life.

I still remember my first soccer game. I may not have known all the rules, but the delight I felt running after the ball while trying to be creative and scoring goals — that feeling never left me. I still remember how fulfilled I felt after scoring my first goal and winning our first match as a team. That moment was where everything aligned: my talent, my passion, my new purpose. I knew then that it was exactly what I should be doing. That day, I decided to dedicate my life to soccer.

It did not take long for me to grow in influence on the field. I knew that my team needed me, but to be honest, I needed them more. I was never a player that relied simply on her talent. I was a devoted player in every aspect. Talent can take you to a certain point, but passion and a relentless work ethic are what allows someone to grow long term. I may have been shorter than most players, but my speed, creativity, and technical abilities were what made me stand out and even be feared by opposing teams. Because of soccer, I felt I had value. On the field, I played with so much confidence and freedom.

Because of soccer, I felt I had value.

Little by little, I became the player I had always dreamed of becoming. I scored a multitude of goals and was often the player who stayed on the field for the duration of the match. I helped my team win provincial titles. I was mentioned in newspaper articles. I was interviewed by reporters. I was even recruited by one of the best varsity soccer programs in Canada. The road in front of me was practically established. All I had to do was continue to work hard, put my whole heart and soul in the process and success would come. At least, that is what I expected.

I had been so focused on who I was supposed to become and on the success that lied ahead that I never anticipated becoming injured. It happened suddenly during an exhibition game in my first year of university. I remember it like it was yesterday, I was by myself in the middle of the field. After doing a move to pass a defender and before accelerating, I experienced a sharp pain that shot through my knee. As I was laying on the ground holding on to my knee, I felt an overwhelming sense of confusion as to what had just happened. I still remember the devastating expressions on my physiotherapist and coaches’ faces and the tears my teammates were trying to hide. I had just torn my anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) — a ligament I soon learned was crucial to stabilizing the knee. Without a strong ACL, returning to play would be practically impossible. I would have to wait for a surgery that would be followed by a rehabilitation period that would last between 6-12 months. In an instant, I had just lost the sport I so dearly loved, and the one thing that gave me a sense of direction and purpose in my life.

I felt trapped, and nothing could ease the pain in my heart.

Who would I be without soccer? A girl that is broken. A girl that just discovered that she could not be the same player or the same person again. A girl that felt she had lost all value and worth in an instant. A girl who was lost and without hope. I tried my best to hide how I felt by acting as I usually did. I still wanted to be the girl who was full of confidence, joy, and passion. But the truth was, I felt trapped, and nothing could ease the pain in my heart.

I wanted to see hope rekindled in my heart. I yearned to return to the field. It took time, but I gradually discovered that soccer was not was gave true meaning to my life. I found a new source of strength and perseverance that allowed me to adapt to my new reality. And you can too.

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Photo Credit Sarah-Kim

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