One of our projects with the Step by Step foundation is to help Martinka, a young girl from Slovakia. Martinka’s health issues began even before she was born, and it was thought that she would never be able to walk on her own two feet. Today we are helping her raise money for a specialist stem cell therapy in Mexico, but she has already started making real progress. Just last week I met her mother who showed me a video of her walking after the first surgery, and words can’t describe the determination I felt in that moment; it is such a powerful emotion to want to make a difference to another human being’s life and, just like Martinka, we will take our mission step by step.
We recently started working with another non-profit organisation, ‘Enjoy Life’ which helps to build a better life for children in both Slovakia and Indonesia. We went to Lombok to help renovate one of the schools there, to try and improve the living conditions for the 50 orphans who called this building home. This wasn’t just about the physical infrastructure, but also about providing a better education, after school activities and an all-round healthier environment.
The second school that Step-by-Step participated with was in the Indonesian archipelago Gili Air, where we began a pilot playground project. Every child can study and play for free – all they have to do is bring a bag of trash collected from the beach to be sorted, separated and (where possible) recycled. In doing so they collect points which can be swapped for school and sports equipment, football tournaments and activities. Enjoy Life works with four pillars of responsibility - ecology, education, support and connection - and I am delighted to be part of it.
Football is a sport that unites people from all over the world; it is a common interest, a universal language, and a way of connecting with each other. No matter where we were born, how our skin looks, or what culture or race we are a part of – we all have a bigger calling in this life. Therefore, as players, I think our mission is far more important than kicking or catching a ball – there are other steps to be taken, and each one should help make the world a better place.