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The roar of the crowd rose to a deafening volume as the game became closer and closer to the end. The excitement that was developing in the crowd was palpable. My sweaty hair crept into my face as I tried to squash the growing anticipation of our inevitable win. The weight of a country was squarely on my shoulders. We could do it! We could overcome the challenges that life had thrown at us since we were born. We could show the world that we were better than the rest by winning the coveted gold.
I see the ball coming towards me once more down the long, grassy field. I watch as the ball comes toward me almost as if it were taunting me; trying to steal my success from me. It weaves back and forth between teammates as the clock slowly winds down.
We were born into poverty and abuse and starvation. The only thing that stayed with us as we grew up was the familiar bounce of a rough-and-tough soccer ball. Relationships and friendships came and gone but soccer never left our side.
The ball came closer and closer.
We had the desire. We had the reasons. We had become the role models that millions of little girls and boys looked up to as a reason to get out of that hell-ridden society.
I took a deep breath and prepared myself for the final shot that was coming. I knew it was coming. It had to be coming.
Time slowed down as the striker put his head down to take the last shot of the game.
I was ready. I had prepared all my life for this moment. We had endured hardship throughout our entire lives but it’s time to get some happiness in return.
I dove towards the incoming, streaking ball. My outstretched fingertips managed to nick the ball just over the bar.
The referee blew the whistle, signaling the end of the game.
We all sunk to our knees from stupefaction. We thanked God for giving us the opportunity to perform our best at the highest level. We came together as a team with a lot of yelling, screaming, and hugging.
We had done it. We were champions.