Imagine you live in a warzone, away from you family, away from your team, no support of any kind, under continuous threat, every bone in your face is smashed, you lose most of your teeth, and you are out of shape, but in couple of month they chose you as the best in the championship !
It is known that sport is not as important as it should be in Iraq because people focused their attention to the basics of life, how to make enough money to survive. Parents send their kids just to study, no classes for music or sport or art, basically everything began to descend from normal level to zero level, but football never dies, it is always in everyone’s heart, most of the Iraqis played football specially when they are at young age, those who are bad or doesn’t have the talent, didn’t find other sport to go for, because sport was the only major sport, so kids quit sport and as known, most of them get fat, out of shape and undetermined.
And the talented young footballer can’t find the right place to enhance their talent, can’t afford to join clubs, because usually in Iraqi tradition these activities are mere distraction from studying, so the talent wasted like the ashes flew to the horizon.
When I was in high school, I met a lot of the young student who were talented in football, but they only play for fun, some of them play in the streets or in the neighborhood, most of them unfortunately just gave it up and concentrated on how to survive, get married and have children, as most of us, at that time we have no idea how to mix both, and try to both enjoy life and achieve our dreams and practice our hobbies, because of the education, traditions and the bad situation in Iraq.
But I will never forget “Magic feet”, he was a young student who was playing with older student at the basketball field, I never seen such thing in my life, the ball stuck to somebody’s feet as it did with him, he did everything, I always wondered why he plays in a team, he should have played alone.
I didn’t know the guy, but he was my brother’s friend, we were at the best high school on Iraq, a privilege not all kids had at that time, you have to be smart, cool, intelligent and talented. “ did I just say that I am all of these?”, anyway you could be less but he was in that place.
His name is :
Hashim Khalid Al Saraf
Skinny kid, who always enchanted us with his performance, we used to skip classes to watch him play, his father used to encourage him, but because studying at Baghdad college was very difficult, and he usually go back home late, because the high school was very far from his place, so the time he spend at home was barely enough to sit with the family and do his homework.
but he never stopped, the tricky part was the last year at high school, the most difficult year, it decides everyone’s future, what pained me the most at the time, that Hashim got a very high degree, I knew he was going to quit his passion to football, he was going to go to very difficult university, and I heard the news, he went to Medical University, “that’s it, another wasted talent” that’s what I said, after that, I have a lot of friends at the Medical University, I went there and saw “Magic feet” on action, he was playing at the basketball field again, and as always, dazzled me to a point where I forgot about my friends, and kept watching him do his magic.
But I always wanted to go and tell him why don’t you become professional player, but a friend told me that he began his professional career few months ago, he could find spare time to join friend and play Futsal, and one day he met one the famous coaches in Iraq for Futsal and it seemed that he was amazed by Hashim, and he promised him to find him a spot in the 2006 competition for the Futsal.
“Guess What? He was titled as the best player in the competition. Huh, didn’t see that coming”, then he was one of the Iraqi national futsal team, he played his first match against Tajikistan, I asked him how did he feel about the match, he simply answered, “The Chill under my skin, the trembling in my feet, when I was standing side by side with my teammates singing the Iraqi anthem, and the flag was sending his bright colors to the horizon, I felt the world is limitless and everything is great where I came from, I had that awe that told me it is not about me anymore, it’s about the dream of this beautiful place called Iraq, because I am pretty sure that Iraq loves me so much, that I couldn’t doubt for a second how much I loved Iraq”, when I heard his words I knew I was wrong about a lot of things in my life, because personally, I believed that we have forgotten about the love of Iraq and we became selfish enough, that’s why our society and country reach that point of destruction and corruption, but he just proved me wrong.
Hashim, came back from his first appearance with the national team, his spirit high, he knew this is a new page in his life to achieve his dreams, to become the first doctor in the history of Iraq who plays football with the national team and to prove that talents have a place in this country, but the reality strikes hard enough, he was graduated from university after spending half of the time playing with the team in Japan, Taiwan and other countries in Asia and middle-east.
But the system of the universities in Iraq specially the medical ones, is really difficult and in my opinion it’s totally wrong, Hashim was sent far from Baghdad for his internship, far from his family, club, and the passion for the game, but nonetheless Hashim strikes reality much harder, he could managed with his teammates to win the championship of 2008, knowing that his team is from Baghdad, and he worked almost everyday in the south of Iraq, “how did he do that ?”
He had to be in his internship in the hospital most of the days, far from all the trainings, his family and the matches, may be people don’t see that much big of a deal, but people in Iraq knows about the internship system in Iraq, beside the transportation from city to city, difficult, not safe and tiresome.
And again, he managed to win the championship again next year, and become player of the season, and join the national team again in many occasions, until he raised the West Asia championship in 2009 in Jordan.
2011, Hashim coming back from the south of Iraq, to join his team in one of the season matches, but in the way a car accident smashed his face, he almost cracked every bone in his face, he had to stay in the hospital for 2 months, everyone was struck by the news, again frustration crept to our hearts, another talent is gone, “he has to surrender now”, so basically at the time I went to look for another talent to write about, then after few months I see Hashim playing in the futsal team as the captain for Iraq, and he performed better than before, Hashim went back to Iraq to win again the 2011 championship.
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Frank Lloyd Wright ( one of the most famous architects in history) said:
“I know the price of success: dedication, hard work, and an unremitting devotion to the things you want to see happen.”
Ralph Waldo Emerson one of the most famous writers said: “Nothing great was ever achieved without enthusiasm.”
I believe young people need such motivation, such enthusiasm, such success, may be Hashim didn’t change the world, or made Iraq a better place, or maybe he did only personal glory, but Hashim did one thing that is great, you proved that you can be who you want to be, again a lot of people will say that there are many other better than him, if you lived in Iraq, or in a country where death and pain is everywhere, you will know that Hashim is one of a kind.
Thank you Hashim.
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