Amateur soccer has absolutely nothing to envy from professional soccer. We could think that professional soccer is a thousand times better, but the reality, believe me, is another.
In professional soccer there are a lot of money, sponsors, clubs have very good facilities, stadiums, synthetic and natural grass fields, expensive uniforms, expensive shoes, expensive salaries, football players live like kings, they have cars, thousands of houses, credit cards, do commercials, have large businesses … In amateur soccer, you play solely for the love of it. And this is enough.
Sadly, the professional player sometimes plays for economic and personal interests or even fame. On the parks and on the fields of the neighborhood, you play to sweat the shirt, to have fun, to raise a cup -which has no material value and does not matter at all- together with our colleagues and friends.
But let’s be honest, how many soccer fans did not have the dream of becoming a professional and defending the shirt of our favorite team? The vast majority, of course. Since we were kids, we woke up every day with the football under our arms, thinking, eating and living one of the most beautiful sports in the world, dreaming that, someday, we could be like our idols, reach glory and be cheered by a whole stadium, winning the World Cup with a goal at the last minute.
There are very few who were able to fulfill this dream. Many failed to be professional footballers and end up forgetting that dream, but the love for the ball is never forgotten.
Some -I include myself-, we never stop being children, we never stop thinking about being part of a soccer team, we never wanted to forget about winning a cup. Those people have an option: amateur soccer.
How does it feel to be part of a small, local team? Is it so different from being professional? Not at all. Since you start to integrate an amateur team, you create a new sense of belonging, you start to be a fan again, to fight, sweat, celebrate and even cry for another sports institution or, at least, I have lived it that way.
Every weekend, I woke up early and started making my bag to go training with my friends from the team. I prepared my soccer shoes, ordered my clothes and went with a smile to forget for one or two hours that there was something more in the world than soccer. I got tired, I fell, I was frustrated and I defended the honor of a club that did not pay me millions, did not have a luxury stadium and was not part of a professional league.
In the end, that’s what we dreamed when we were young, isn’t? Doing what we love most in life, giving our best for a team, feeling how a shirt can be our second skin.
Between being professional and amateur, there is not much difference. I had all the sensations that an elite footballer can experience, I played in a full stadium and I heard people scream with joy for that goal that gave us the win. I felt the cup of champion in my hands and I saw the happiness on the faces of my friends and family.
I do not earn my living thanks to amateur soccer, but I do live for it.
While I can, I will continue trying to defend the shirt of a soccer team because it is what I love doing and I will not let labels keep me from dreaming.