The following post is the type that we’d rather avoid writing for sentimental reasons; however, we think it’s important for families to read about the nuances “young” footballers and their respective families encounter from an early age in the pursuit of a football career. The endless need to travel and be “away from the family” takes a toll. It’s the price to pay. Our advice: maximize your time with your footballer because he/she will be gone at a very early age…without further ado…
HAPPY 19th BIRTHDAY JOHAN!!!!
It’s a special day..believe it or not…more so for us than for you. It’s the commemoration of one of the three happiest days of our lives. We are unable to express our gratitude to the Lord for placing you in our lives. We are proud beyond any realistic measure. We could attempt to begin to list the many reasons why you are loved but words won’t suffice. For now, know that we miss you and also that, believe it or not, you have spent 4 out of the last 6 birthdays away from home (doing what?, footballing). Yes, we remember each one of them. Probably our most memorable was the one that didn’t involve football; we actually spent it together back in 2018 in Cancun. It’s unfortunate to celebrate most of your birthdays away from you…people say, technology makes it easier these days…but it really doesn’t.
We understand you are doing what you love…and yet you did it again…as most already know, your recent return to Porto was a bit rocky AND sad as well. Not only is the current pandemic depressing, seeing you depart magnified that feeling. While the family had grown accustomed to having you around, the dreaded time for you to continue pursuing your dreams finally arrived…your family must not be selfish…but yet, we are. In the end, you are our son (the oldest too). Yes, after 19 years we are still in learning mode and figuring some things out with you. Above all, you are more than a footballer and we want the best for you. Inexorably, your football career will have an end at some point and your life will continue…our goal is to help you find joy in the journey of life (not just football). We find comfort in knowing that your family will always be around and the right time will come for us to spend more time together…until then, we must wait.
On the football side of things, we are happy that you maximized your time in the US (and with us). You are well prepared for next season. We heard you have been doing well in pre-season practices (a luxury you didn’t have last year). There’s no doubt that you leave us in better all around well-being than the one you had upon your arrival. We are proud to say that we accomplished so much together and in the process our family worked on several aspects of your life that will help you become yet a better person and player:
First, making it back from Porto safely was the initial obstacle we overcame as a family. What an odyssey!!! How can we forget the anxiety of your trip home? Once home, those days you spent quarantined in your room upon your arrival went by slowly. It made us value the most banal things in life. Now that you returned to Porto, we honestly envy you. Sure the world is wild right now but the US is undergoing some dramatic social, political, and economic changes that you can do without and luckily for you Europe doesn’t have to worry about any of it nowadays. You will be better off in Porto.
Secondly, when your brother arrived home from Louisville, your emotional tank gradually filled up. Your sparkling smile was even more remarkable…seeing your brother, to say the least, reinforced the unbreakable bond you two have. Also, spending the last “vacation” days with him was the best decision we could have made. You guys feed off of each other’s energy. We know that your emotional well being is beyond its maximum level as you traveled back. You take with you all the Louisville memories.
Hanging out with your friends didn’t hurt either. Although physical interaction with the Chum Chat crew was initially limited for obvious reasons, once you met, plans for the second season came to fruition. Gradually, the quarantine cleared up for everyone and you were also able to hang out with friends from FWC and old football teams. You grew your emotional IQ significantly over the summer.
Seeing family, celebrating child’s day, mother’s day, mom’s b’day, father’s day, and dad’s b’day were the cherry on top. It filled your soul (and ours). The only major celebration we missed was your birthday but hey by now, you are so used to it. Soon we will celebrate many of them together. Thanks for spending an abundance of time with us.
You return to Europe is in a similar situation in which you made it home back in April…with a lot of medical uncertainty. The extreme measures against the pandemic are still rampant. However, we are glad you are escaping not just the the domestic health madness going around these days (especially here in Texas). Above all, we are glad you are healthy in Europe. While you were home, we took care of all your routine and preventive medical needs so you should be in excellent shape until the next time we see you. It’s important for families to understand the relevance of preventive medical care to avoid injuries.
Contrary to when you left last year for the European trials where you were nursing an unnecessary injury sustained due to medical negligence, you now are healthy. Super healthy. We took excellent care of your body while you were with us. Sometimes, MLS clubs, due to their staff shortages (or other reasons) can only do so much to treat players. Remember, their medical care, especially at the young ages, is very reactive rather than preventive. Be aware families.
Technical and tactical
The daily rigorous practices with Ricky, Jogo, FCD and Solar ex-teammates prepared you technically and tactically well for next season. You are good to go…and the few practices you have had at Porto so far are proof of it. Keep killing it.
Honestly, what I will miss the most will be our Saturday football sessions followed by our picnics. Those were priceless.
Last but not least, you found time to finish your book; we are now in a searching mode. If anybody knows of a good illustrator, recommendations are accepted. More to come on that. Glad that you are exploiting your God-given talents.
Exodus 35:10“All who are skilled among you are to come and make everything the LORD has commanded”