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Growing up in Guinea, I was an avid soccer fan and player. I dreamed of being the next Ronaldo. You know, I mean the real one; the one from Brazil ;). As a kid, he was my hero and every day after school, I played the game hoping to be the next Ronaldo unbeknown to me that he would come from Portugal. Unfortunately, like most dreams and aspirations, they rarely become a reality. Looking back, I realized that I cherished Ronaldo not just because he is the greatest to ever play the game (yep, I said so), but also because he was an underdog who always kept coming back from devastating injuries. Compared to my friends, I never had the strength or the skills to compete at a high level; thus, watching Ronaldo’s resurgence time and time again led me to believe that I might get there one day. Soccer became a source of hope; a window into the probability of the improbable.

Nowadays, I am no longer an avid soccer player or fan, but I still cherish and love the game. I come to realize that Soccer is Africa’s national anthem. It is our common denominator; and the one language we all speak irrespective of our ethnic origin or social or economic class. It is the unquestionable unifier and the reason why many of us are willing to lose our national and individual identity to become part of a collective story. We are not united by soccer. Soccer is the reason we become united. Our ability to be united by one sport, as predictable as soccer, gives hope that Africa’s unity is not impossible. Thus, the world cup gives us a sense of hope; a glimpse into the possibility of the impossible.



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