– I’m dedicating this post to the Women’s World Cup 2015. As I get older, the dream gets closer. If I can dream it, I can achieve it.
Walking into that building was the most intimidating thing I’ve ever done. The doors were all reflecting my image; I could not see what was inside. I had been driving for 30 minutes, turning the AC on and off almost every 2-5 minutes. It was early November of last year when I first entered through those gates, after years of passing by and wondering what was inside from afar. My hands were shaking and my eyes were tearing up. And you know when you think just because things are going well at some point something has to go wrong? Yes, I still had that aching feeling that something will go terribly wrong. “This is it. All I’ve been dreaming of – it’s all happening now. I finally made it!”
3:25 pm, I stepped in. The building was dark and empty. I didn’t even try to call for someone. I had already started feeling out of place with all those posters of legends I grew up watching, hung up on the walls of the reception. “Can I help you?” asked a young man, standing by an open door with light coming out behind him. I walked into that sunny room and to my surprise, they were all expecting me. A whole table of coaches, doctors and staff waiting for me. “Welcome to the Egyptian National Team, Farida.”
They asked me to sit down, offered me juice and some chocolate. “Did you have breakfast this morning? You have to be ready for tryouts in an hour. Sherif, go fetch Farida here a few snacks before we start,” said the head coach before I could even clear my throat. I was so nervous, I felt like I was in the presence of royalty. I politely thanked him and walked off with Sherif, the young man who greeted me, and off to my room where I saw Sarah again.
“Yes and hopefully not my last.” I replied
“Well it sure feels like home having you here. We missed you on the field. Good to have you back.”
Sarah was my former club teammate. Seeing her again gave me a sense of ease that only lasted for a few minutes. I walked to the open balcony and there it was: eternal greatness. We had an exotic view of the field. That freshly-cut, green grass aroma filled my soul. I could already see myself scoring the winning goal for the World Cup qualification rounds, and finally putting Egypt on the map. My friends always told me they would one day watch me accomplish such a milestone in my career. If they believe in me, why shouldn’t I believe in myself? “Dream big,” I thought. “Dream big.”
“This kit was meant to be for someone else, but you can have it now,” said Sarah as she spread the glorious national team kit across my bed. “You can also have some biscuits, milk, and cheese from the mini fridge. I’ll go pray and get ready while you settle in. If you need anything just ask Sherif.” I pulled out a couple of date-covered biscuits from the drawer.
“Do you think I can make it out there?”
She smiled, asked me to finish my food, and said she will be back with some juice for the both of us. I didn’t know what to make of her vague, nonexistent response, but I was a little less worried somehow. Although we are not the same age, I’ve always felt like she watched over me like an older sister would. And even though it had been years since we saw each other, we chatted like we’ve never been apart. So I listened to her, ate all my food, put on my new kit and waited, impatiently.
Before I knew it, we were all gathered up in the dining room, listening to the head coach while he lectured us and planned the training session, which we all had to listen to very carefully. I sat next to Sarah, and another friend of mine who was with us in the same club, in the front row. It felt like familiar grounds, but I couldn’t help but think that the three, possibly four, rows behind me were all staring at me – the new girl. They were more experienced than me. Many of them had already been on the national team for many years. But I had recently learned that hard work beats just about anything, so their experience didn’t bother me as much as it normally would. My thoughts were interrupted by Sarah’s concerned tone, “Are you following?”
I walked away from the team after the coach was done, took a minute for all this to sink in, held my head up high. As I looked up, I saw me out there on the field – the way I see myself in my dreams. I watched myself score goals, lift my team up, walk with pride. “No one can take this away from me now. Not here, not today.” I walked out, and I could tell I wasn’t there yet. The dream wasn’t over. It was just about to begin.
Student athlete, living in Cairo, Egypt. Striker, coach, freestyler. Soccer is my way of life.