January 31, 2014
By , Philly, PA
Paulo lived on the outskirts of Brasilia, the capital of Brazil. He was 15, poor, and his parents worked on the big plantation in the countryside. His parents had been slaves that worked for the plantation. However, when Brazil gained their independence, Paulo’s parents had been freed. Although they were left with nothing so they decided to work for the plantation again, using the money they made to build a shack. Their shack was nothing pretty with clay walls, dirt floors, and rubber ceilings. Inside were two chairs and a beat up sofa, surrounding a fire pit they used to keep warm and cook their food. Behind them was a beautiful, lush grass field. Paulo worked with the plantation workers to help make extra money to support his family. He never attended a formal school or received any kind of education. The only education he ever received was from his mother who taught him to read and write Portuguese. One day when work had ended, there was a partially grassy field with shoes set up as goals for a soccer game, he saw his father playing with some of the other workers. So Paulo sat down to watch some of the game. He found out that his father played very well. When the game ended, Paulo walked up to his father

“What was that game you were just playing?” asked Paulo.

“That was Soccer, Paulo.” replied his father.
“Well can you teach me?” asked Paulo.

“Sure, let’s start tomorrow.” Said his father.
The next day Paulo went into the grass field, with no shoes and no ball. His father then came and told Paulo that there had been a ball that had been thrown away because the plantation owners’ son had gotten a new one, and his father got it out of the trash. Paulo didn’t care, he was happy that he had something to practice with. After an hour of playing with his father, Paulo realized he was naturally good with handling and kicking the ball. When his father left to go help make dinner with his mother, Paulo stayed and kicked the ball around until it became dark. Paulo did this for many weeks and his father had noticed how much he had been playing. So he told Paulo that there was a game he was going to play with some of the workers the next day. This made Paulo very anxious and excited about the game and the next day after working went to play with the workers. He was much smaller than most of the workers and was picked last. However throughout the game, the ball stuck to Paulo’s’ foot and managed to get several chances to score but the goalkeeper who was so big saved it whenever he shot.
After an hour or so Paulo’s’ father yelled “The next one to score wins!”
The other team’s player received the ball and Paulo knew that he was clumsy with it when watching him play. He raced towards the ball and slide tackled the man, nevertheless had gotten the ball. Speedily he got up and saw he was close to the goal. The goalkeeper raced out to block his shot, but this time he did shoot. Paulo instead took a touch past the goalkeeper, giving him the whole goal. Paulo dribbled the ball in between the shoes to score the game winner. He was congratulated with various nods of approval from all the workers who stood there astonished. Paulo continued to play with his father’s workers for many months. He became the best player on the field and was nicknamed “the chosen one” in soccer. On Paulo’s’ sixteenth birthday was when his father told him of “The Chance” presented by a big soccer company, Nike. Nike “The Chance” program takes eighteen players from each country to go across the world and face different countries that have chosen their best players. The players receive anything they want during the trip and are considered to be a professional team for teenagers. However Brazil’s tryout was in the capital, so his father took all of his savings and gave it to Paulo.
He told Paulo “Do not be afraid”.
The next morning Paulo boarded a bus to the capital of Brazil. When he got to the capital, there were hundreds of kids in line to the stadium, for the tryout. After standing in line, he came to the front, filled out a form and entered the stadium. Many of the kids had fancy shoes on and expensive light clothing to help them in the tryout. All Paulo had been a t shirt he had worn for the past week and his bare feet. After an hour or so the gates were closed and three coaches came onto the field. They explained there would be three cuts, thirty the first day, thirty the second day, and twenty two the third and final day. “Good Luck” they said to end the brief conference. Paulo felt nervous, months of training and all of his father’s savings to come and play for this one tryout. He felt sick and light headed, didn't know if he could step on the field and play. Then he remembered his father’s words “do not be afraid”. So Paulo stepped onto the field played the best soccer he had ever played before, the coaches seemed to be really impressed with him. At the end of the day when it got dark the coaches announced the people who were chosen to stay to tryout the next day. Paulo was one of the sixty that were chosen to continue. On the second day the people went back to the stadium to tryout. He played another day in brutal heat with nothing but a shirt and shorts on. Again they called his name to come back to tryout. On the final day as Paulo walked into the gates one of the coaches motioned him aside. In a bag, the coach had a pair of cleats with socks.
“I saw you playing with your bare feet yesterday and was impressed, try these.” said the coach. Paulo smiled and thanked the coach. He then put them on to play; they felt light and comfortable to his feet. Paulo that day had an astonishing tryout. When it finally got dark, the coaches circled everyone together. Then they called the eighteen names. The very first name read, “Paulo”.

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