My name is Aimone and from a very young age I was the awkward kid that would dream about doing Ronaldinho’s perfectly mastered “elastico”, dribble like O fenomeno, be respectable like Aaron Hunt, score a volley like Messi, and sometimes dream of head butting my opponent Zidane style ( which ultimately ruined France’s chance of winning the world cup, but clearly it had to be done…). If you have no idea what I am talking about, it’s ok, because a lot of people don’t but don’t tell me the thing I hear every day “wow! For a girl you know a lot”…. just don’t. I am just kidding! But in all honesty being a girl in a largely male dominated industry is challenging, draining but also very rewarding!
Having a brother a decade older than you means that you have no other choice but to keep up, so that’s how my adventure with football began. At 4 years of age I was already on that pitch surrounded by boys, needless to say I had couple of tricks of the trade to learn back then such as avoiding the goal area when a teenager shoots with all his will power. I was taught by my brother; he would take me out every day and teach me. When I say teach me I mean he would show off and would never let me touch the ball until I had legitimately ran or fought for it.
As a kid I would love running for no apparent reason, so football was a great way in my head to run around chasing after something that had as much energy as me… yeah, the simple things! But as I grew up, I saw the game with another set of eyes; it wasn’t about chasing a ball anymore it was about the art of making it go wherever I wanted it to go and the specificity of every movement leading to that goal.
To people’s surprise, I have never played club level. It never crossed my mind; I would play every day with the neighbouring kids, at school and during my free time. For a lot of people that doesn’t suffice, that’s fair enough! For me it was all about street football and learning from every single person I played with- what can they do I can’t do? How is their aim so perfect? Configuring the movement I needed to master to gain certain skill was what I strived for, and I never gave up.
My whole journey has not been without setbacks; the feeling of quitting was very much present during the teenage years, where playing football automatically made you a boy or when studies become a lot more challenging than you would’ve expected. Even now, I had to stop playing for nearly two years due to a couple of torn ligaments in my knee (yes, I am the Active student on crutches haha!) but I never want to quit for these reasons; my stubbornness and my pride.
When my brother would mock me whist we played, he didn’t know that all he was doing was fuelling my stubbornness and I refused to give up then, and I refuse to give up now. It is easy to give up and think “You know what? Maybe I am wasting my time maybe I should just stop”, but what real satisfaction do you get out of that? I understand all the struggles, the setbacks, low confidence issues, the stares you get when you try and fail…But clearly you are doing something, can’t become the next Ronaldo overnight!
All I am saying is that it is hard, mentally and physically challenging, but if you love the game, just go for it! People will not stare at you and judge you; in fact they might admire you! And that doesn’t apply just for football, it applies for any sports you play and may I dare say life!